The Greek Debt Crisis: A Misnomer for the European Imperialist Crisis

Anti-austerity demonstration before the Greek Parliament, July 3, 2015

Anti-austerity demonstration before the Greek Parliament, July 3, 2015

August 2015
Hari Kumar

1. An Introduction to Greece
2. The Truman Doctrine – Greece becomes dependent upon the USA after the Second World War
3. The Greek Junta – Greece by now fully a client state of the USA
4. Capitalist Class of Greece Moves to “Democracy” and Europe
5. The USA Makes Its Move to Become the World Imperialist Leader – The Character of the European Union – from pro-USA states to anti-USA coalition
6. The Greek Economic Crisis 2009-2015
7. The Marxist View of “National Debt” under capitalism
8. The Debt Crisis leads to increasing struggle of the growing Greek working class and gives rise to The United Front of Syriza – the political parties of the left
9. What was the elected programme of Syriza?
10. Elections of 2015 and Negotiations with the Troika
11. Conclusion
APPENDIX: Select Chronology 1975 to 2015

After the Second World War, Greece was a client state in the Mediterranean of the USA. The revisionist collapse of the Yugoslav communists in the neighbouring state of Yugoslavia was key in this development. Tito’s degeneration into revisionism deprived the minority of the Marxist-Leninist forces in the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) of crucial support. We describe this in a subsequent more detailed article.

This article is restricted to the post Second World War development of Greece, up to the present-day debt crisis. It argues that the entire post-war history of Greece was effectively that of a neo-colonial state serving initially the interests of USA imperialism and British imperialism. The Greek people did not have a non-revisionist proletarian leadership that could develop an independent democratic path. The Junta and the imperialist machinations in Cyprus of the island further retarded the people of Greece. Both Greece and Cyprus – endured military oligarchic dictatorships sponsored by the USA.

The later history of Greece became inextricably entwined with the slow but sure evolution of the European imperialist bloc. This bloc took multiple only slowly coalesced, and eventually it later became the European Community. However during its coming into being, it took several class forms. The post-Marshall Plan in Europe had ushered in a dominant USA which fostered the first steps towards a federal Europe. In its hopes to control the European content as a market, the USA was at first successful. During this period the elements of a united Europe adopted a pro-USA comprador position.

This is also characterised the initial European Economic Union (EEC). But the Euronationlists finally, and haltingly, moved to release Europe to some extent, from the USA embrace. Following the fall of the former Comecon countries, Germany was able to move into a new market itself. This began a new phase. Now the rising German imperialists used their industrial superiority and new market share to re-vitalise their hegemonic ambitions.

Such events were milestones on the road to today’s debacle in Greece. They were the pre-history of the chronic indebtedness of the Greek state.

After the Junta “democratised” itself, Greece swopped the USA master for that of the EU. The EU progressed to be firmly dominated by the unified single unitary state of Germany, where German capitalists became the dominant faction. German capital exported both capital and industrial exports, including… to Greece. Over-riding the total market share of Greece accruing to Germany, are the huge debts of Italy and France to Germany – both at risk of potential default. This underlies the harshness of the German ruling class towards the Greek capitalist representatives in Greece today. Finally, current differences between the International Monetary Fund leader Christine Lagard (representing the USA interests) and the German leaders Angela Merkel and Schauble, show the continuing inter-imperial contradictions. This has engulfed Greece today.

1. An Introduction to Greece

Greece is set in the Eastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea and surrounded by the Aegean Sea:

“Greece has more than 2,000 islands, of which about 170 are inhabited; some of the easternmost Aegean islands lie just a few miles off the Turkish coast. The country’s capital is Athens, which expanded rapidly in the second half of the 20th century. Attikí (ancient Greek: Attica), the area around the capital, is now home to about one-third of the country’s entire population.


In the modern era industrialisation has been slow, leaving Greece dependent upon agriculture, fishing and tourism. The only segment of industry that could be considered substantial is shipbuilding and related industries:

“The manufacturing sector in Greece is weak. …. In the 1960s and ’70s Greek shipowners took advantage of an investment regime that benefited from foreign capital by investing in such sectors as oil refining and shipbuilding. Shipping continues to be a key industrial sector—the merchant fleet being one of the largest in the world—(but) are extremely vulnerable to downturns in international economic activity, as they are principally engaged in carrying cargoes between developing countries.”


As far as agriculture is concerned, produce is hampered by small peasant holdings, resulting from an early restriction on large land holdings:

“large landowners appeared relatively late (with the annexation of Thessaly in 1881) and only lasted till the agrarian reforms of 1917, which abolished big landed property in Greece irreversibly.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. ‘Capitalism and Dictatorship in Post-war Greece”; New Left Review; I/96, March-April 1976).

In addition dry conditions and poor soil make agriculture at times tenuous.
In recent years the European Community has helped with various grant subsidies. Overfishing has hampered that other resource:

“Greece’s agricultural potential is hampered by poor soil, inadequate levels of “precipitation, a landholding system that has served to increase the number of unproductive smallholdings, and population migration from the countryside to cities and towns. Less than one-third of the land area is cultivable, with the remainder consisting of pasture, scrub, and forest. Only in the plains of Thessalía, Makedonía, and Thráki is cultivation possible on a reasonably large scale. There corn (maize), wheat, barley, sugar beets, peaches, tomatoes, cotton (of which Greece is the only EU producer), and tobacco are grown. Other crops grown in considerable quantities are olives (for olive oil), grapes, melons, potatoes, and oranges, all of which are exported to other EU countries. … Although inefficient, Greek agriculture has benefited substantially from EU subsidies… In general, however, the importance of the agricultural sector to the economy is diminishing…
Greece’s extensive coastline and numerous islands have always supported intensive fishing activity. However, overfishing and the failure to conserve fish stocks properly, a problem throughout the Mediterranean, have reduced the contribution of fishing to the economy.
Greece has few natural resources. Its only substantial mineral deposits are of nonferrous metals, notably bauxite.”

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The early development of modern-day Greek capitalism was that of a merchant capital that weaved itself into the matrix of the Ottoman Empire. Both these traders and arising shipping magnates, were based outside of Greece. Being non-resident they could not transfer easily all their capital resources for later industrialisation needed to keep pace with the rest of the European economies:

“The development of the Greek bourgeoisie must be traced back to the sixteenth century when Greece was under Ottoman rule…. Greek merchants… accumulated vast fortunes and control (over) Balkan trade and most of the Ottoman empire’s commercial transactions with the industrialising West. …..
With the decline of the Ottoman empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Greek bourgeoisie….contributed to the development of Balkan nationalism. It thus played a crucial role in the Greek war of independence against the Turks (1821). For while the Greek peasantry constituted the main revolutionary force in the war, the bourgeoisie and the intellectuals managed to direct this force towards nationalist goals. ….
The first Greek constitutions, for instance, were inspired by the French experience; and although Capo d’Istria and later King Otto tried to implement an absolutist model of government, their efforts were ultimately frustrated.
Of course, it is true that in the nineteenth century the autochthonous merchant class was rather weak. But its counterpart living abroad, the Greek diaspora merchants and ship-owners, with their formidable financial power, greatly influenced the shaping of most institutions in nineteenth-century Greece itself… .. these (Greek) merchant communities.. were flourishing both in colonial centres (Alexandria, Cairo, Khartoum, etc.), in the major capitals of ninteenth- century Europe and in Constantinople and Asia Minor.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. ‘Capitalism and Dictatorship in Post-war Greece”; New Left Review; I/96, March-April 1976).

This large overseas Greek bourgeoisie was already prone to comprador positions. Although it helped transfer some capital to Greece itself, this was largely in the mercantile and finance sectors:

“Although relatively small by international standards, the Greek diaspora bourgeoisie, by exploiting inter-imperialist rivalries and playing the role of intermediary between metropolitan and colonial centres, managed to master formidable financial resources, some of which were channelled into mainland Greece. However, given its cosmopolitan and mercantile character, as well as the weakness of the indigenous bourgeoisie, these resources contributed to the development of a top-heavy state and a parasitic tertiary sector, geared to support a mercantile and finance capital, rather than to the development of industry and agriculture.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. ‘Capitalism and Dictatorship in Post-war Greece”; New Left Review; I/96, March-April 1976).

By the end of the Second World War, the population of Greece can be characterised in the following break-down:

  • A very small working class, of whom the most militant were in the tobacco industry; also some in shipping (often overseas for long periods) and fishing;
  • A substantial number of small to medium petit-bourgeoisie in the urban areas (artisans, small businesses) and an even larger number of small peasants in the rural areas
  • A small but dominant comprador bourgeoisie with significant financial overseas capital – based in the shipping industry and in bank capital – with many connections to foreign traders
  • A much smaller but ambitious section of industrial capital anxious to develop their ‘home’ base of Greek production.

The first two sections of society in particular, had suffered enormous losses and hardships under the Italian-German fascist occupation; and then in the ravages of the Civil War. A good summary of the position of the Greek people following the Second World War can be taken from Enver Hoxha:

“When our people are rebuilding their country which was devastated during the war, when our country is working with all its might to strengthen the people’s democracy and advance on its peaceful and progressive course, Greek monarcho-fascism is employing a thousand and one of the basest methods to inflict harm on our people. You know what a terrible tragedy is occurring in Greece. The unfortunate but heroic Greek people are fighting against monarcho- fascists and the foreign intervention. The progressive and democratic world is profoundly indignant when it sees the great tragedy of that people who deserve to live free and sovereign, but who, unfortunately, are being mercilessly oppressed and killed by collaborators of Italo-German fascism who are now under the direct orders of Anglo-American reaction.”

(Hoxha, Enver; “We Sympathize With the Efforts of the Greek People for Freedom and Democracy.” Speech 3 October 1947; In: “Two Friendly Peoples
Excerpts from the political diary and other documents on Albanian—Greek relations
1941 — 1984”. Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin Institute Toronto, 1985; pp. 47-48.

2. The Truman Doctrine – Greece becomes dependent upon the USA after the Second World War

The USA implemented an overall strategy known as ‘The Truman Doctrine’ – to counter the ideological threat of the USSR after the victories led by the Marxist-Leninists had inspired the world proletariat. In the Aegean the Truman Doctrine aimed to:

“Prevent Greece and Turkey from passing under Soviet Control.”

(Woodhouse C.M. “Modern Greece, A Short History”; London 3rd Edition
1984; p. 258).

Both the USA Marshall Plan and the creation of NATO, were tactical instruments of the Truman Doctrine. They were used in Greece to build and develop a modern capitalist state structure. But before they were deployed, first the potential proletarian victory of the Greek Civil War had to be stopped.

While the British General Scopus and his forces had defeated the combined forces of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and their military wing (ELAS), significant distrust remained in the population against British imperialism. So, after the battle of Athens (Dec 3rd 1949) was won by the British, a democratic façade was placed onto the imperialist proceedings. By this stage all leftist opposition had been essentially neutralized and no longer posed any threat to the Greek capitalist class.

When the British imperial chief Winston Churchill understood the degree of Greek popular distrust – he reversed his prior opposition to a plebiscite. The plebiscite following the defeat of left forces enabled the return. The ensuing Plebiscite supported the return of King George II to Greece. (Woodhouse C.M. “Modern Greece” Ibid; p. 254).

The Americans also dropped their previous support of the King, and become “ostentatiously neutral” (Woodhouse C.M Ibid; p. 254) – they tacitly supported the British crushing of the communist forces. Archibishop Damaskinos was appointed a Regent in the King’s stead and General Plasitiras (head of EDS) was appointed Prime Minister and head of government in lieu of George Papandreuou. Papandreuou had previously “approved” the British suppression of the mutiny of 1944 (Woodhouse C.M Ibid; p. 252).

Both the American covert support, and the British repudiation of the King’s intent – enabled the predominantly capitulationist ELAS some pretext to accede to British overlordship. Accordingly ELAS now agreed to the infamous Varizka Agreement of February 1945. Only Aris Veloukhiotis and the Political Committee of National Liberation (PEEA) had resisted Varizka – and these forces were simply hunted down and eliminated.

A succession of shaky governments was capped by the first post-war General Election of March 1946. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) abstained and the Populist party of Constantine Taldaris, formed a government. This election:

“Marked a watershed in Greece’s foreign relations. For the first time the Government of the USA was directly involved in Greek affairs alongside Britain, though occupation in the Allied Mission for observing the Greek elections. It was a first step towards the Truman Doctrine”. (Woodhouse C.M Ibid; p. 257).

The defeat of left and communist forces at Athens had decimated left resistance.
Behind both the King and the Parliament lay the Army, and the most right-wing section of the army – the group known as IDEA (Sacred Bond of Greek Officers):

“After 1949, the ruling class was no longer threatened. … their enemies had been effectively destroyed for a generation.…..
After its victory, the Right imposed a quasi-parliamentary régime on the country: a régime with ‘open’ franchise, but systematic class exclusions. The Communist Party was outlawed and an intricate set of legal and illegal mechanisms of repression institutionalized to exclude left-wing forces from political activity. The job of guaranteeing this régime fell to the agency which created it: the army. The state was nominally headed by the monarchy and political power was supposedly vested in parliament. In reality, however, the army, and more specifically a powerful group of anti-communist officers within it, played the key role in maintaining the whole structurally repressive apparatus… in particular IDEA (Sacred Bond of Greek Officers), which was to play a key role in post-war politics.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. ‘Capitalism and Dictatorship in Post-war Greece”; New Left Review; I/96, March-April 1976).

The Tsildardis government gave way to the more right wing Demetrios Maiximos with General Zervas (Formerly of EEDS) as Minister of Public Order. Brutal repressions of left forces continued despite both international protests and the presence of a United Nations observership. We will examine the Civil war and the Varzika Agreement in detail in a subsequent article.

By October 1948, martial law was imposed. Under this direct attack by the right-wing forces, and the simultaneous Yugoslav revisionist turn and exposure by the Marxist-Leninist Cominform of 1948:

“The rebel leaders admitted defeat by proclaiming a ‘temporary cessation of hostilities’… a caretaker government.. lifting of martial law, .. withdrawal of the British service missions and the renewal of friendly relations with Yugoslavia.”

(Woodhouse C.M Ibid p. 260)

The Greek government joined NATO in 1951, as well as the Council of Europe; and the Security Council of the UN.

Although throughout this period numerous governments based on varying participation of right-wing forces were only able to hold power for brief periods. The National Progressive Union of the Center (EPEK) – led by General Plastiras and Emmanuel Tsouderous held power until displaced by the virulently anti-communist General Papagos leading the Greek Rally:

“The days of Plastiras’ government were clearly numbered when not only the Greek public but also the US authorities became impatient … Under pressure from the US Embassy the government resigned in 1952… (leading) to electoral overwhelming victory for the Greek Rally.”

(Woodhouse C.M Ibid pp.261-263).

Army vicious actions purged all state structures – which was key to the state through the immediate post-War period:

“Military reaction established firm control over the whole of Greek territory and consolidated a system of ‘repressive parliamentarism’ or ‘guided democracy’. This was controlled by a triarchy of throne, army and bourgeois parliament. Within this power bloc it was the army, the victor of the civil war, which played the dominant role.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976)

Industrial Policy of the Greek Capitalists in this Period

For the next 11 years, both the Army (Marshall Papagos) representatives, or parliamentary figures (George Papandreou before the coup and later Constantine Karamanlis) wanted to consolidate the neo-colonial status to the USA. This started with an economy based on agriculture, tourism and a small manufacturing base.

“the country was far from self-sufficient. .. the chief market for tobacco was revived (West Germany).. expenditure of tourists which came to take second place only to agricultural products as a source of foreign exchange. The development of manufacturing industry and mining with indigenous capital, in place of foreign concessions, (was) a healthy trend. But the lack of home produced source of energy was a severe handicap. It remained true that Greece was still dependent upon foreign aid and there was no end to this condition in sight.”

(Woodhouse C.M Ibid p. 267)

Five special features of the Greek state’s path to modernisation, can be seen:

1. The political and organisational strength of the working class and peasantry was weak, having been decimated during the second world war and after by the brutality of the state. The KKE was almost devoid of leadership, with key leaders in exile.
2. The small native capitalist class was out-numbered by the many Greek capitalist who were based overseas (shipping) – and did not have the necessary local capital to invest. Hence the small resident Greek capitalists used the State machinery to develop. This state machinery swelled the size of the bureaucracy who became a large state dependent stratum. They aspired to ‘middle-class’ status but were objectively privileged sections of a growing working class.
3. The state still needed the heavy investment of the overseas imperialists. They first aligned themselves to the USA, and then by the 1970s to Europe.
4. These strategies effectively left Greece a dependent state with the beginnings of large overseas debt.
5. An immiseration – poverty and desperation – of the working peoples, led to increasing emigrations to both the USA, Canada and Europe

After the devastation of the Second World War there had been an impressive return to Greek per-war levels of production:

“The Second World War and the civil war had devastating effects on the Greek economy. For instance, at the end of the Second World War, 9,000 villages and 23 per cent of all buildings had been destroyed. It was partially a sign of the vitality of Greek capitalism that by the middle fifties, pre-war levels of output had been reached again and the economy was growing at a fast rate (the average rate of growth in the fifties was 6 per cent).”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. ‘Capitalism and Dictatorship in Post-war Greece”; New Left Review; I/96, March-April 1976).

However, despite this growth, manufacturing industry remained undeveloped. Nor did the rise of the shipping industry enable Greek capitalists to retain revenues within Greece to more easily enable a home manufacturing base to be built up:

“the Greek economy of the fifties did not manage to overcome a major feature of its underdevelopment: its weak manufacturing sector. Greek capital, whether in its mercantile, industrial or finance form, was unable to orient itself towards the manufacturing sector—especially in those key branches (chemicals, metallurgy) which, through their multiplying effects and their great transformative powers, can contribute most to a rapid growth of the industrial sector”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

“shipping… assumed colossal proportions in the post-war period. …..Greek seamen helped the economy by reducing unemployment and by providing valuable foreign currency through their remittances home. On the other hand, since shipping capital lies outside the effective control of the Greek state (it can always move elsewhere if the state bothers it with heavy taxes or other restrictions), it becomes increasingly an avenue of escape for Greek merchant capital. In this way, if migration robs Greece of its most valuable human resources, shipping plays a similar role with respect to the country’s financial resources..”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

“Greece’s age-old specialization within the inter- national economy had gradually given rise to a spectacular concentration of capital among a handful of shipping magnates, mainly based in London or New York, whose aggregate holdings are widely reckoned to exceed the GNP of Greece.”

(Petras, James. “The Contradictions of Greek Socialism“: New Left Review; I/163, May-June 1987)

In conclusion, Greece did not break out of the strait-jacket of a dependent economy. Despite large state structure support, Greek capitalists did not establish an effective manufacturing base:

“from a ‘under-developed’ economy: i.e. a fast-growing, highly parasitic tertiary sector, a weak and more or less stagnant manufacturing sector with a low labour absorption capacity, and a large but inefficient agricultural sector……Whereas in 1938 manufacturing output amounted to 85·6 per cent of all industrial output, it declined to 79·7 per cent in 1948–9 and to 73 per cent during the 1959–60 period.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

“Thus in the late fifties more than half the labour force was still employed in agriculture, whereas the contribution of the industrial sector to the GNP was only around 25 per cent.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

Correspondingly foreign investors ensured that favourable legislation was passed in 1953, and by the 1960s a large scale influx of foreign capital flowed in. This was concentrated in the heaviest key sectors, and by the mid 60’s the industrial development had qualitatively changed with heavy industry capital making goods predominating:

TABLE 1 Flow of Foreign Capital into Greece (Dollars)

1960 11,683,700
1961 13,509,809
1962 16,764,758
1963 50,026,290
1964 59,716,887
1965 111,596,368
1966 157,606,242
1967 32,265,000
1969 64,000,000
1970 70,000,000

By the end of 1973, foreign capital invested in Greece had risen to a total of approximately $725 million…. not very impressive if one takes into account that in a single year (1969) $2,504 million went to the gross formation of fixed capital in the Greek economy.

Nevertheless, as foreign capital was mainly directed to-wards the key manufacturing sectors, its impact on the economy was much greater than its relatively small size would suggest. In fact, especially during and after the years 1962–3, when the metallurgical, chemical and metal construction industries experienced a great boost due to foreign investments, one can speak of a qualitative break in the growth of Greek industry. Not only did the industrial sector start expanding at a much faster rate, but there was an important shift in investment from light consumer goods to capital goods and durables.

Whereas in the period 1948–50 light industry represented 77·5 per cent of total manufacturing output, its share went down to 60·9 per cent in 1963–70.31 This important shift is clearly reflected in the changing structure of the Greek export trade.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

Correspondingly, there was shift away from agriculture in the economy. And by the 1970s the economy had become qualitatively industrialised:

“In 1960 agricultural products constituted 80 per cent of the country’s exports, but this figure went down to 54 per cent in 1966 and to 42 per cent in 1971, as Greece was more able to export industrial goods. … Despite the dramatic decrease of the agricultural population during the fifties and sixties, the agrarian structure does not show any signs of basic change: there is no marked tendency towards land concentration or the emergence of large-scale capitalist enterprises in agriculture.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

There was a major qualitative change by the 60s, towards industrial development. But it did not eliminate ‘under-development’:

“Thus the sixties saw a qualitative advance in the industrialization of modern Greece. There can be little doubt that the ability of the Greek economy to reap the benefits from concentrated foreign investment in manufacturing was due to its own pre-existing capitalist development. This was not able to generate a significant industrial sector autonomously, but it could adapt itself to, and consolidate one with exceptional rapidity. Yet this type of capitalist development not only failed to eliminate some fundamental aspects of Greek under-development, but on the contrary accentuated them, creating disruptions and dislocations which are directly relevant to an understanding of developments in the political superstructure.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

There ensued an enormous state monopoly centralized economy in the industrial sector:

“The intrusion of foreign capital, in close collaboration with Greek capital and the Greek state, reinforced the already impressive degree of capital concentration in the economy. A first rough intimation of this is conveyed by the enormous size (in terms of assets) of such giants as ESSO-Pappas or Pechiney, or the fact that out of the 200 largest companies in terms of fixed capital, seventeen were fully foreign-owned and in another thirty-nine foreign capital had a degree of participation varying from 10 to 90 per cent. As the share of foreign capital in the GNP steadily increased (from 2·15 per cent in 1962 to 8·15 per cent in 1972), the monopolistic tendencies of the Greek economy were markedly accentuated. If in the fifties monopoly or oligopoly were due mainly to indiscriminate and nepotistic state protectionism, in the sixties they were due rather to the capital intensive nature of the new industries and the small size of the Greek market.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

But the working class was still small. This is reflected in the predominance of small artisanal or petit-bourgeois production:

“This impressive concentration of industrial capital did not eliminate the plethora of small industrial units, which for the most part have a family-oriented, artisanal character. Indeed, one of the most striking characteristics of Greek industry is the persistence, especially in the more traditional sectors of the economy (footwear, clothing, leather, wood products), of small, low-productivity units side by side with large firms that exercise a quasi-monopolistic control of the market. The extent to which small firms persisted in the Greek manufacturing sector can be seen by the fact that whereas in 1930 93·2 per cent of manufacturing establishments were employing fewer than five persons, by 1958 this percentage had only gone down to 84·9 per cent. In 1958 the percentage of firms employing more than twenty persons was 2·1 per cent.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

The working class and peasantry of Greece became progressively more squeezed:

“Gross per capita in- come, approximately $500 at the beginning of the sixties, had reached the $1,000 level by the end of the decade.38 But the few rough calculations which have been made in the absence of complete data leave us in no doubt as to the inequities which disfigure this spectacular gain. For instance, according to a relatively recent estimate, 40
per cent of the lowest income groups receive 9·5 per cent of the national income (after deduction of taxes and social security benefits), whereas the 17 per cent in the top income brackets receive 58 per cent. From 1954 to 1966, when the national income approximately doubled, profits tripled (banking profits between 1966 and 1971 quadrupled).
Obviously, as the relative share of big capital increases, the relative share of all other income decreases. Those engaged in agriculture are, as usual, the worst off. Thus in 1951 agricultural income amounted to 83·3 per cent of the average national income; the proportion dropped to 60·3 per cent in 1962 and 51·1 per cent in 1971… in 1950 independent cultivators and their working family-members constituted 92·39 per cent of the agricultural labour force.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

In summary, there was an unusual dual character to the industrial landscape in Greece. It was one of a state sponsored heavy industry tied into foreign capital, while the petit-bourgeois remained very active:

“the capitalist mode of production, dominant in the Greek social formation, is linked to the mode of simple commodity production (agriculture, artisanal industry) in such a way as to keep growing continuously at the expense of the latter—neither destroying it completely, nor helping it to develop. And it is precisely here that the most crucial difference lies between the western European and the Greek models of industrialization. The former involved either the destruction of simple commodity production in agriculture and industry, or its articulated incorporation into the capitalist mode of production through a specialization which established a positive complementarity with big industry. As a result, the effects of technical progress, which originated in the dynamic sectors, spread fairly quickly to the rest of the economy, with beneficial consequences for income distribution, the expansion of internal markets and so on. In the Greek social formation, by contrast, capital intensive industrial production has taken an ‘enclave’ form. Despite its rapid growth in the sixties, it has not succeeded in expanding or even transferring its dynamism and high productivity to the backward sectors of the economy. Thus simple commodity production looms large within the Greek economy. It gives a lot (directly and indirectly) to the capitalist mode of production, but takes very little in return—just enough to reproduce itself. As a consequence, inequalities in Greece are much greater than those found in the West. For in addition to the usual inequalities between labour and capital in the sectors where the capitalist mode is dominant, Greece has inequalities resulting from the persistence of vast productivity differentials between ‘modern’ and ‘backward’ sectors of the economy.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

As the Greek countryside was becoming depopulated, many peasants emigrated. This deprived the Right wing forces in the countryside of support. The on-going immiseration-depression of the living standards of the working people led to a resurgence of left support. After some electoral gains of the left, the RIght wing army faction decided to set aside the triarchy of Army, parliamentary forces and Monarchy – and to become the sole power base.

How Cyprus Became the Focus of Imperialism and Heated Up Greek Battles

During this time, the relations between the Greek and Turkish pro-USA client states became strained with the Cyprus crisis. The Cyprus struggle had initially started as a war of liberation against the Ottoman Empire and Turkish oppression. It now pitched a small weak Cypriot national bourgeoisie against both the pro-Greek compradors and the pro-Turk compradors.

“The movement for liberation began under Turkish rule among the Greek Cypriots, who suffered particular oppression, and its main demand was for “Hellenic unity”, for “enosis” (that is, union with Greece). The movement continued to develop under British rule, and with the development of a weak Cypriot national bourgeoisie this class came to lead the liberation struggle. The effective leader of the movement was the Ethnarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, Mihail Mouskos — Archbishop Makarios — and embraced two organization
1) the National Organisation for Cypriot Struggle (EOKA), a right-wing body sponsored by the Greek government and led for many years by Greek General Georgios Grivas; and by

2) the Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus (AKEL) a body representing more directly the interests of the Cypriot national bourgeoisie, and presenting a left-wing image to appeal to the workers, peasants and urban petty bourgeoisie; it was led by Ezekias Papaioannou.”

(Marxist Leninist Organisation of Britain (MLOB) “THE CARVE-UP OF CYPRUS” “Class Against Class”; No.7, 1974. (

The fortunes of the Cyprus liberation movement were inextricably tied to the turn of events in Greece. Here the US imperialists held dominant sway:

“By 1966 Greece had become a semi-colony of US imperialism, and this position of dependence was reinforced by the military coup of 1967 which established a military dictatorship in Greece subservient to US imperialism. From now on the demand of the Cypriot national bourgeoisie (represented by the Makarios government) for national independence had the overwhelming 
support of the mass of the Greek Cypriots, while enosis became the demand only of the pro-imperialist Greek Cypriot comprador bourgeoisie.“

(MLOB, “The carve-up of Cyprus” Ibid)

What was the character of the ‘Independent’ state of Cyrus? In reality it was a neo-colony of Britain:

“In December 1959, prior to the granting of “independence”, elections were held for a Provisional President of Cyprus, Makarios stood on a platform of acceptance, with reservations, of the British imperialists’ plan and was elected by a large majority.
Despite the fact that Makarios represented the interests of the Cypriot national bourgeoisie, the British imperialists felt it safe to hand over “power” to a government headed by him by reason of the antagonisms artificially built up between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island, believing that these antagonisms and other “safeguards” could be effective in preventing the Makarios government from taking any steps to end the neo-colonial status of the island.
The “independent” Republic of Cyprus which came into being on August l6th, 1960 was, in reality a neo-colony of British imperialism.”

(MLOB “The carve-up of Cyprus” Ibid)

While Archbishop Makarios was a representative of the Cypriot national bourgeois, he was unwilling to launch a struggle that unleashed the power of the working class and peasantry. Thus he was left to resort to intrigue and maneuvers aimed at “seeking advantage of the contradictions between various powers” (MLOB). However this was ineffective as the USA blocked shipped arms from the USSR.

3. The Greek Junta – Greece by now fully a client state of the USA

As noted, the 1967 Greek military dictatorship was established by a coup backed by the USA. It was precipitated by the increasing working class struggles against the poor economic situation of the neo-colonial state of Greece, whereby:

“US civil aid came to an end in 1962; Greece was admitted as an Associate to the European Economic Community; and partial settlement was reached of Greece’s long-standing indebtedness to creditors in the USA and to private creditors in Britain. In each case the result was to add to the strain on the balance of payments..…. nearly one third of the budget was still devoted to defence… The stringency of the economic state of the country led to a number of ugly demonstrations. Strikes became increasingly frequent..”

Woodhouse C.M Ibid p. 282-283.

The then King, Constantine II was the Commander-in-chief of the army.
That the right wing forces were loosing support became clear from the 1958 electoral gains by left wing party EDA. The right wing section of the army – IDEA – launched the “Pericles” Plan:

“devised for the purpose of neutralizing the communists in case of war, this was used instead by the Right to achieve victory in the 1961 elections.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

This move by the extreme right-wing of the army, prompted George Papandreou
to start “Anendotos” — a “fight against the repressive policies of the Right.” His party was the “Center Union.”

“In the 1964 elections, Papandreou’s Centre Union successfully challenged the electoral dominance of reaction. In the elections of the following year, it further consolidated its position by gaining an unprecedented 53 per cent majority. Meanwhile, a strong left wing emerged within the Centre Union, under the leadership of Papandreou’s son Andreas.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

Although George Papandreou tried to move against IDEA. He also tried to improve some aspects of working peoples lives. Together this prompted the Army and the Monarchy to plot against Center Union by slandering his son Andreas, as a traitor who shared state secrets. An interim coalition government of centrists was formed but fell quickly. Panagiotis Kanellopoulos formed a ‘Service Government’, prior to an election. However, the Army remained determined to sweep away any opposition:

“In 1967, the Greek military seized power in a coup d’état, overthrew the centre right government of Panagiotis Kanellopoulos. It established the Greek military junta of 1967-1974 which became known as the Régime of the Colonels.”

The Colonels did not change the economic direction of Greece, they made it simpler – they suppressed both workers, peasants and small petit-bourgeoisie – in support of the capitalists:

“The colonels, by following the logic of the economic model they had inherited, gave their unlimited support to big capital, foreign and indigenous. They made sure through repression that the ensuing growing inequalities would be accepted unconditionally, without protests or strikes to frighten capital away. After a short period of hesitation… private investment rose again and foreign capital continued its penetration of the Greek economy. The rate of growth soon surpassed pre-dictatorial levels and sustained an impressive acceleration. This achievement was a clear indication of the ‘fit’ between rapid capital accumulation and the dictatorship. Moreover… despite growing inequalities, the standard of living grew steadily during the period of the dictatorship. The colonels brought to fruition a process of dependent industrialization that had started before them. They did not initiate it, they merely pursued it with vigour and consistency.”

(Mouzelis, Nicols. Ibid; New Left Review; 1976).

Although Mouzelis is sceptical that the USA supported the coup, it most likely they did. Much later on, USA President Clinton – admitted that the USA had backed the Junta:

“When US President Clinton visited Greece in 1999, he obliquely offered what sounded like an apology when talking about a “painful” aspect of their recent history.
“When the junta took over in 1967 here, the United States allowed its interests in prosecuting the Cold War to prevail over its interests — I should say, its obligation — to support democracy, which was, after all, the cause for which we fought the Cold War.” Clinton said in his conciliatory remark,
“It’s important that we acknowledge that.”

Remarks By President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Simitis of Greece to the Government of Greece, Business and Community leaders. Inter-Continental Hotel Athens, Greece – November 20, 1999.
Anti-Revisionism in Greece ‘The Rule of the Colonels’
– the military Junta 1967-1974

But there was never any serious threat to the Parliamentary section of the Triarchy. The working class had simply been resisting the economic pressures.

They had not been organised into a meaningful communist resistance.

The Junta soon became led by George Papadopoulos, who instituted a reign of terror against leftists and communists. The King tried in 1967 to establish himself as a sole dictator, but was rebuffed and fled to exile.

As Prime Minister, Papadopoulos continued a brutal dictatorship overseen by the dreaded Military Service Police (ESA) of Ioannides. The crude overthrow of any democratic norms even led the Council of Europe to demand Greece’s resignation. But:

“The Western Alliance as a whole continued to tolerate the dictatorship, on the grounds that Greece formed an essential part of NATO….. The US went still further.. American policy became one of active support. American and Soviet strategists were engaged in a duel in the eastern Mediterranean. It became even more intense after the ‘Six-Day War’ of June 1967 between Israel and the Arab states… In September 1972, an agreement was signed by which the US Sixth Fleet would enjoy home-port facilities at Piraeus.”

(Woodhouse C.M Ibid pp.298-99)

Repressions continued and provoked even a Mutiny in the Navy in 1973. In an infamous incident, the students at Athens Polytechnic were brutally assaulted in November 1973. Using tanks to suppress a sit-in, more than 20 students died. This allowed Brigadier Ioannidis to seize power for himself, behind a puppet General Grivkas (Woodhouse Ibid p. 305). Formal martial law was again installed.

Ioannidis now also moved to oust Archbishop Makarios from Cyprus in a coup d’etat. Moreover this was coordinated with the imperialists in order to ensure the partition of Cyprus into a ‘Greek” area and a “Turkish” area. Events unfolded as follows:

“The pretext for action was a note from Makarios to Greek President Phaedon Gizikis on July 2nd., demanding the recall of the Greek officers of the National Guard on the grounds that they had been collaborating with EOKA-B (the terrorist Organisation formed by Grivas following his return to Cyprus in 1979 and continuing in existence after Grivas’s death in January 1974) in attempts to assassinate him and overthrow the government. The note set the deadline of July 20th. for compliance with the demand.

So, on July 16th, on the orders of their Greek officers, units of the (Greek Cypriot)–National Guard, in full collaboration with EOKA-B and with the Greek troops stationed on the island, staged a military coup and established a military dictatorship over the part of the island outside the enclaves under the control of the Turkish Cypriot comprador bourgeoisie’s “Transitional Administration”. A new puppet “President” was installed, one Nicos Sampson, a curfew imposed and thousands of supporters of the Makarios government arrested.

The Greek government recognised its puppet regime almost immediately. while the Turkish government threatened that unless the situation in Cyprus were reversed it would order its troops to invade Cyprus under the Treaty of Guarantee.

For four days the US imperialists and their allies in London, not only took no action, they deliberately obstructed the calling of the Security Council of the United Nations which could have taken some action. As Lord Caradon put it bluntly in a letter to the press:

“Due to the deliberate delay of the United States and the United Kingdom, it was not until after the invasion (i.e. of Cyprus by Turkish troops — Ed.) that the Security Council passed any resolution at all.”

(Lord Caradon: Letter to “The Guardian” 11 July 31st, 1974; p. 12).

Meanwhile, Makarios had managed to escape from Cyprus. He was received by the British government with formal, but non-committal, protocol, but the United States government talked with him only in his ecclesiastical capacity”:

“The President (i.e., Makarios — Ed.) had been given the chilly US reception of — in Dr. Kissinger’s terms — ‘a loser’, without hope of a comeback”.
(“The Observer”, July 28th.9 1974; p. 9).

On July 20th., therefore, some thousands of Turkish troops invaded northern Cyprus according to plan, occupying the principal area inhabited by Turkish Cypriots from the port of Kyrenia to the outskirts of the capital, Nicosia.

Later the same day, the US and British imperialists brought the Security Council into action, and it passed a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire on Cyprus. And Greece and Turkey — despite being, according to the world press “on the verge of war” – dutifully obeyed.”

(MLOB; Ibid).

As Woodhouse rightly comments:

“The US was legitimately suspected of having backed Ioannidis”

(Woodhouse Ibid p.305)

4. Capitalist Class of Greece Moves to “democracy” and Europe

The work of the overt and now discredited dictatorship of the generals was done, they had suppressed any internal left opposition. The stage was set for the partition of Cyprus. Now under an international odium, the Colonels “took off their uniforms” – again under pressure again from the USA imperialists. As the MLOB put it:

“The Colonels Take Off Their Uniforms

On July 23rd 1967. The military junta that had exercised a military dictatorship suddenly stepped into the background over the people of Greece since 1967, and announced that they had invited civilian politician Konstantinos Karamanlis to form a civilian Cabinet.

Karamanlis is mainly remembered for his role as Prime Minister in arranging the murder (and its subsequent cover-up) of rival politician Gregori Lambrakis (portrayed in the film “Z“). While in exile in Paris, he was in June 1965 voted into Karamanlis’ party ‘New Democracy’. He was committed for trial by an investigating committee of the Greek Parliament for “bribery, dereliction of duty and maladministration”.

Due to an unfortunate error, the “democratic revolution” in Athens was announced by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger the day before it actually happened. Even the capitalist press was compelled to treat the “revolution” with some cynicism:

“Dr. Kissinger and his emissary Mr. Joseph Sisco have played a key role in promoting governmental change in Gioecell.”

(“The Guardian”, July 24th., 1974; p. 2).

And in fact, little fundamental in Athens seemed to be changed. True, a considerable number of political prisoners were released (a necessary step in order to obtain enough politicians to form a government). But Brigadier-General Dimtrios Ioannides remained in office as head of the hated military police, martial law continued and in his Message to the Nation Karamanlis was careful not to mention the word “democratisation.”

(Marxist Leninist Organisation of Britain (MLOB) “THE CARVE-UP OF CYPRUS” “Class Against Class”; No.7, 1974. (

Nonetheless Karamanlis did restore the Constitution of 1952 (making it again a monarchy) and released all political prisoners and “legalised the CP for the first time since 1947”. (Woodhouse; Ibid; p. 305). In actual fact he had no real choice as the prior alliance that had formed the Triarchy (Army, right-wing parliamentarians, and Monarchy) had been totally discredited.

“When Constantinos Karamanlis, the grand old man of the Greek Right, stepped into the breech and formed the first post-junta government in 1974, it was immediately apparent that there could be no simple reversion to the old model of repressive parliamentarism… (But) his freshly formed New Democracy party retained and expanded the electoral support that had previously gone to the parties of the Right. But the political discrediting of both the army and the throne—which had, in any case, regarded with suspicion Karamanlis’s sixties project of modernizing the monarchy—left him with little choice but to seek the consolidation of right-wing hegemony through a populist inflection of internal and external policy… Within months of coming to power, the National Unity Government headed by Karamanlis had withdrawn from NATO’s military command structures, legalized the Communist Party for the first time since the civil war, organized relatively free general elections, and called a referendum that produced a 69 per cent majority in favour of the republic. Subsequent trials of junta leaders—in some cases leading to sentences of life imprisonment—underlined the subordination of the officer caste in ‘normal’ political activity…”

(Petras, James. “The Contradictions of Greek Socialism“: New Left Review; I/163, May-June 1987)

By November 1974, elections had elected Karamanlis’ ‘New Democracy’ party. A further plebiscite confirmed a popular rejection of the monarchy. Karamanlis tellingly revealed his government’s objective nature:

“Karamanlis once remarked that he was himself the Americans’ only friend in Greece, and he dared not admit it.”

(Woodhouse Ibid p. 308).

Where was the economic development of Greece by now?
The hopes of the Greek capitalists had in fact not been fulfilled:

“In Greece… the early seventies already witnessed a rise in the specific weight of food, clothing and construction industries, and in the latter half of the decade manufacturing as a whole was contributing less than fifteen per cent of the annual increase in GDP, while fully three-quarters of GNP growth came from the inflated services sector. Manufacturing exports, given the small size of the internal market, had originally been conceived as one of the principal keys to success, and at first a number of important openings were found in this area. However, the recessionary tides of the seventies, together with the intense competition of low-wage economies precisely in textiles and other such goods, led to a loss of Greece’s market share everywhere except in the Middle East. By 1980, when PASOK was preparing to take over the reins of government, it was possible to talk of an actual tendency of deindustrialization, as the import/export ratio of manufacturing goods had risen to 3.2:1 from 2.5:1 in 1974.”

(Petras, James. “The Contradictions of Greek Socialism“: New Left Review; I/163, May-June 1987)

While Karamanlis was not anti-American, he was moving Greece towards Europe. Relations with Europe, in order to join the European Economic Community (EEC), became the focus. Karamanlis had spent 15 years as an exile in France, and the French government had sent him back to Greece on a government plane.

On 1 January 1981, Greece joined the EEC becoming its tenth member.
But Karamanlis was struggling to withstand the growing resistance as inflation drove a left shift. The by now openly revisionist Communist party of Greece (KKE) had begun to capture a portion of the electorate:

“At the left end of the spectrum, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) rapidly consolidated a strong position in industry and a ten-per-cent bloc of the electorate”;

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

A new façade to divert the masses was urgently needed. The prior ‘centrist’ party of George Papandreou had been the ‘Centre Union’. After the Junta dissolved itself, this won 20% in the first elections, and supported Karamanlis in government. Consequently it soon disintegrated. George’s son, Andreas Papandreou had been trained as an economist in the USA. He had been instrumental in the pre-Junta parliamentary government, in attempting to curb the most right-wing elements of the Army (IDEA). He had fled into exile after the coup, and from there organised a resistance grouping – Pan-Hellenic Liberation Movement (PAK).

After the Karamanlis return to parliamentary rule, Papandreou organised the
Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). Within 7 years it had won the in the Greek elections of 1981. It was an explicitly social-democratic formation proposing:

“full-scale nationalization and ‘an end to the exploitation of man by man’. …. And an all-round modernization of Greece’s productive system that would bring to the fore hi-tech industries employing local and expatriate skilled labour and producing for internal consumption and export. In foreign policy, Papandreou retained his reputation as an intransigent opponent of NATO and of any Greek involvement in the EEC .. All these themes came together in skillful and insistent propaganda centred on the need for comprehensive change or allaghi.”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

By October, Andreas Papandreou was elected into power for the PASOK party.
It is true that early progressive moves were made during its government including early secularisation and improvements in the role of women:

“The more general secularization of Greek society, and the introduction of divorce by consent, civil marriage and equal rights for children born out of wedlock.. the Greek parliament has abolished various repressive laws from the fifties as well as some of the extreme powers given to the police, and although the military has largely remained a world apart, subject to no fundamental restructuring or parliamentary scrutiny, it has been deprived of the means of direct intervention that used to be provided by its own radio station. .. the EAM/ELAS Resistance was officially rehabilitated.”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

However PASOK retreated quickly upon attempts to tax urban real estate, and did not try seriously to ever move on this front again. Industry remained at a comparatively low level against other countries of Europe. PASOK did not base itself on the working class, and thus never proposed any resolve to deal with either the Greek capitalists, or the petit-bourgeois small business. Corruption was a real problem and Petras proposes the term ‘kleptocrats’ to describe a stratum of especially corrupt business:

“Most of the ‘industrialists’ continued to accumulate wealth by borrowing huge amounts of capital from the state banks, investing a fraction and diverting the rest to overseas bank accounts. The debt/ capital-investment ratio remained one of the highest in the world because industry was directed not by the usual kind of entrepreneur but by a highly distinctive stratum of kleptocrats. Agriculture too suffered from underinvestment, irrational and costly marketing systems, with a multiplicity of small farms divorced from organized credits or from productive systems capable of providing cheap inputs or processing outputs.”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

The preponderance of petit-bourgeois ownership of small businesses had bred its brand of tax evasion and corruption:

“In Greece, …the pervasiveness of petty-bourgeois ideology and the ability of the non-productive classes to evade taxes and acquire multiple sources of income. Until Greek society recognizes the working class as its most valuable asset in the drive for industrialization, it will be doomed to stagnation and crisis.”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

PASOK would not move against the capitalist class. Instead it resorted to short term loans to head off worker and petit bourgeois discontent. PASOK rule led to inflation and the start of the debt. At the same time debt increased. Meanwhile
The financial sectors were bolstered whilst manufacturing was neglected:

“PASOK’s early spending spree… increase(d) the consumption of nearly all sections of the population without creating any new industrial capacity to meet that demand. The government raised wage income, partially offsetting the inflationary erosion in Karamanlis’s final two years; private capital responded by slowing investment to the merest trickle. Exports stagnated, while imports mushroomed and invisible earnings (the mainstay of the external sector) began a sharp decline. To secure the populist compromise the regime had turned to foreign loans, fiscal deficits and EEC subsidies; ….

Public sector borrowing soared from 12–1 per cent of GDP in 1983 to 17–1 per cent in 1985, without having any effect on domestic output; and particularly in the run-up to the June 1985 elections it was increasingly used to finance current expenditures, which rose from 39 per cent of GDP in 1984 to 41 percent in 1985. As one study has noted:

‘The fastest-growing category was employment in services, almost exclusively led by continuing substantial increases at around 3 per cent per annum in employment in the public sector and in banks . . . In the three years to 1985 employment in manufacturing declined by around 2–1 per cent.’ Table Two (below) sets out the still sharper fall in output during
the first PASOK term.

Table 2: Greek Industry, 1981–1984: 1970 =100

                                         1981 1982 1983 1984
Consumer goods 195     191      188      192
Capital goods        180     163      167      172
Source: OECD Report on Greece, 1985/86.”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

Agriculture also saw falling production:

“Agricultural growth for its first term was as follows:
_1.6, 1981; _2.4, 1982; _6.8, 1983; _6.4, 1984; _0.5, 1985.
The reason for these meagre results was that only a small part of the funds were actually used in agriculture. The remainder were employed to ‘finance consumption, to be redeposited with banks at much higher rates, and to be used for the acquisition of real estate in urban areas.’”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

In fact, while the now infamous external Debt of Greece, became a ballooning problem under PASOK. Petras cites figures from the OECD:

“PASOK has also increased Greece’s role as a subordinate debtor nation beyond the worst period of the old Right… (See Table 3 Below.) The foreign debt stands at 45 per cent of GDP and payments account for close to a quarter of export earnings. Given the phasing- out of EEC balance of payments assistance, commercial borrowing will soon have to increase more than twofold, on terms dictated by the foreign banks: namely, the closure of unprofitable public enterprises; greater freedom for employers to hire and fire workers; tough anti- strike legislation, relaxation of price controls, an expansion of public– private ventures, and an open door to foreign investment.

Table 3:

Greece’s External Debt (in billions of $)
                       1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986
Total Debt         7.9      9.5      10.6   12.3    14.8    17.0”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)”

In fact – all this is very similar to today, and the same demands for ‘austerity’ were raised then by the European banks.

This social-democratic party, now more openly objectively played the role of a pro-European comprador:

“Papandreou .. freely engaged in anti-American rhetoric… contending that the American imperialism was the most serious threat to humanity, Papandreou unnecessarily antagonised Washington.”

(Kofas JV; “Under the Eagle’s Claw – Exceptionalism in Postwar US-Greek Relations”; Westport 2003; p.184)

Meanwhile Papandreou was moving Greece firmly into dependency to the EEC:

“Dependency results from the growing EEC domination of the Greek economy. While the EEC has increased the transfer of loans and grants to Greece, this has been more than offset by the takeover of internal markets and the displacement of Greek manufacturers and farmers. To quote again from the OECD report: ‘Whereas Greek manufacturing output has remained broadly stagnant in the three years to 1985, import volume of manufactures may have risen by roughly one fourth in the same period.”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)”

Neither PASOK nor the party New Democracy (Led by Kostas Karamanlis, the nephew of the former President) – differed substantially in their political orientation towards Europe. Both were realigning from the USA to Europe:

“Greece evolved from a client-patron relationship with the US to being an EU member, subordinating its national sovereignty to the community….
With increased competition of the regional economic blocs.. after the Cold War Greece drifted further from the US, because Europe was drifting as it strengthened and expanded its own sphere economically financially, politically, and militarily…”

(Kofas JV; “Under the Eagle’s Claw – Exceptionalism in Postwar US-Greek Relations”; Westport 2003; p.248)

Greece’s leaders also did not appreciate the USA more overtly favouring Turkey as its vassal state of choice in the Aegean and Mediterranean. But in fact, Papandreou was posturing – and perhaps to the populist base that PASOK had bult, that he was ant-USA. After all, Papanadreous signaled to the USA that were better terms given to Greece, that this re-orientation could be re-visited. Correspondingly during the 1984-1985 year, the total US military aid to Greece actually went up (Kofas, p.200 Ibid). Moreover he renewed Greece’s allegiance to NATO, and enabled the US fleet continued facilities.

This hesitation of Greece’s capitalist leader to completely cut the USA off as their pay-master, reflects that of the European powers themselves (see below). The determination of the EEC to sharply diverge, reject its subordinate status and openly challenge the USA, was still to come.

By 1985, PASOK reversed all its earlier progressive steps for workers wages and trade unions. It increased unemployment to doubled its rate (it was now above 10%). It enabled employers to revert to arbitrary practices of hiring and firing, and empowered them to break strikes.

Greece’s path was set by the refusal to tackle the core problem: Refusing an independent path and adopting a pro-European comprador path – just as before it had been a pro-USA comprador path. What did this mean? Essentially it mean chronic indebtedness with no possible release. Warnings that were later to be echoed in 2014 – began to sound:

“Interest payments on the external debt have been undergoing a geometric progression (up from $466 million in 1980 to $1.1 billion in 1984), while exports have fallen from $4.7 billion in 1981 to $4.4 billion in 1984. … Capital flight has increased significantly in the 1980s, as it has done in other indebted rentier states. ….. a positive $15 million balance of payments in 1980 became a negative $312 million in 1984. For these reasons—together with the overwhelming predominance of speculative over entrepreneurial capital—it is clear that the financing of further growth is virtually excluded. Far from inducing the inflow of new resources for development, Greece’s ‘opening to the outside’ or ‘liberalization of the economy’ will facilitate the outflow of resources, thereby deepening underdevelopment. Nor will the device of lowering wages make Greek capital competitive, so long as industrial capital acts principally as a financial intermediary and fails to innovate and invent.”

(Petras Ibid New Left Review 1987)

The details of individual governmental changes up to the 2010 financial crisis in Greece, are beyond the scope of this article. In fact, they do not substantially alter the analysis. The trajectory of Greece was now set. While the political leaders were acting in the interests of the dependent capitalists (in essence all of Greek capital) – the compact with foreign imperialism would ensure the Greece crisis became a financial chain-reaction.

We must briefly examine the politics of the European coalition at this point.

The Appendix carries a detailed chronology describing the history of Greece from 1981 up to 2010.

5. The USA Moves to Become the World Imperialist Leader – The Character of the European Union – from pro-USA states to anti-USA coalition

Moving to a meaningful trans-national coalition of European capitalist states – took several steps and forms. The coalition morphed from a post-war Europe wish to re-build, through to the European Economic Community (EEC) and then to the European Union (EU):

“The Community’s initial aim was to bring about economic integration, including a common market and customs union, among its six founding members: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. It gained a common set of institutions along with the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) as one of the European Communities under the 1965 Merger Treaty (Treaty of Brussels). In 1993, a complete single market was achieved allowing for the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people within the EEC…

Upon the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, the EEC was renamed the European Community to reflect that it covered a wider range than economic policy. This was also when the three European Communities, including the EC, were collectively made to constitute the first of the three pillars of the European Union, which the treaty also founded. The EC existed in this form until it was abolished by the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon, which incorporated the EC’s institutions into the EU’s wider framework and provided that the EU would “replace and succeed the European Community.”


Through these steps, the class alliances of the countries of the European alliance changed in its essential character.

Immediately post-Second World War, the European countries, were formed into a pro-USA formation. However over time they became anxious to attain autonomy from the USA. This fight-back reached a climax after the USA launched its financial attack in launching the Dollar Hegemony in the Plaza Agreement of Richard Nixon in August 1971. This act finally precipitated the formation of the Eurozone. This section traces the course of the changing class character of Europe in the post-Second World War decades.

At the end of the Second World War, the USA planned to rebuild European capitalism through the USA Marshall Plan for its own ends. This was facilitated by the fact that the Second World War had physically devastated Europe, and that many countries were in debt to the USA. Britain, for example was now completely beholden to its major competitor – the USA:

“When sales of foreign investments and of gold and dollars are added in, the net change on capital account between the outbreak of war and the end of 1945 amounted to no less than Pounds Sterling 4,700 million. The United Kingdom ended the war with the largest debt in history.”

(A.Cairncross. Years of Recovery, British Economic Policy. 1945-51. London, 1985. p.7). 

American imperialists recognised that Europe needed to be re-built as a bulwark against further socialist upheavals. Especially as the USSR successful battles, had become an inspiration across the world. The USA imperialists – as personified by James Warburg (part owner of the House of Morgan, a controller of USA international finance and industrial and utility trusts) – remarked:

“Germany was the hub of the weak German economy ‘the largest single compact mass of skilled labour on the Continent’, it should be transformed from ‘the present poor-house and plague-center’.. ‘into a powerhouse for a rapid reconstruction of Europe, without letting the powerhouse acquire too broad a permanent franchise and – above all – without letting the powerhouse ever again become an arsenal’…. ‘The Westward thrusting of communism will not be stopped by an physical frontier. It can be only stopped only a planned, US-Aided reconstruction so liberal and even revolutionary as to meet the challenge on its own grounds, and to strike the meaning from the accusation of American “dollar diplomacy.”

(Van Der Pijl, K. ‘The making of an Atlantic ruling class”; pp. 42-43,146; London 2012).

As time would show, once Europe had been rebuilt as a bulwark, the USA could not restrain European capitalists wanting their own dominance.

In postwar Europe – the Marshall Plan was one of the three trade and economic tactical instruments by which the USA imperialists wished to take advantage of the post-Second World War crippling of the European powers. The other two were the creation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the creation of the General Agreement of Trades and Tariffs (GATT). The military instrument to back these up was of course the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Marshall Plan was conceived as an anti-communist and anti-nationalist weapon and a means to erode European independence:

“The establishment of American hegemony in the North Atlantic area was directed simultaneously against the spread of planned economy and social revolution beyond the Soviet-controlled area in Europe and against the national, self-contained reconstruction programs pursued by most West European states in the immediate post-war period. These programs in which local Communists parties participated, were judged unsuited for maintaining capitalist rule in the long run. ‘Europe would have been Communistic if it had not been for the Marshall Plan, Marshall Aid administrator Paul Hoffman claimed in February 1950.”

(Van Der Pijl, K. Ibid; p.148-9)

Van Pijil summarises that:

“Through the Marshall offensive, the Pax American was imposed on the economic ruins of the defunct Pax Britannica in Europe.”

(van Pijl Ibid p. 167) .

But the formation of the IMF was another key strand of the USA design.

“Bretton Woods.. Shorthand for the system, designed by the US and Britain, that governed international monetary and economic relations in the decades following the Second World War. … (It was) the launch of the post-war phase of super-dominance of the US and the dollar. .. All member countries pledged themselves to play by an internationally agreed set of rules…these rules were quite strict, and enforced by a new world economic policeman, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Countries had to declare a ‘par value’ – an exchange rate – of their currency in terms of the American dollar and/or gold, and change it only in consultation with the IMF. Various forms of currency manipulation were named … to prevent a return to the competitive devaluations and currency chaos of the 1930s. While countries could keep some controls on movements of capital, they basically undertook gradually to dismantle the wartime systems of exchange and trade controls and to move towards the free convertibility of their currencies… they also pledged themselves to adhere to the rules of the multilateral trades and payments scheme”;

(Dean, Marjorie & Pringle, Robert “The Central Banks”; London 1994 p.75).

In return for this agreement, the USA agreed to take over the position as “lender of last resort” – whereby it would honour those creditors who wished to remove gold in exchange for dollar. It would:

“Submit to discipline by its agreement to convert into gold any dollar balances presented to it by overseas central banks at the fixed price of $35 an ounce. The US was the only country to accept such a gold convertibility obligation and the only one in a position to do so, having ended the war owning about two-fifths of the world’s stock of monetary gold”;

Dean and Pringle; Ibid p. 76.

This in effect took over the dominant position of lender of last resort that the British government had previously held from 1924 to September 1931 (Dean and Pringle Ibid p. 63). The US was anxious to see this agreement effected as it would enable the USA to control international monetary policy:

“In these countries (Ed -ie. those agreeing to join the IMF) national central banks of countries other than the US had little influence on policy decisions. Domestic and economic policy came to be dominated by one objective – the maintenance of the fixed exchange rate against the dollar – and exchange rate policy, was of course entirely a matter for government…. For the most part, a government would respond to an impending payments deficit by tightening fiscal policy (Ed-i.e. dropping the printing of money) or putting up interest rates; and a country with a surplus would ease fiscal policy or lower interest rates. Of the major countries only France resorted regularly to devaluation as way of maintaining its export competitiveness and growth.”

(Dean and Pringle; Ibid p. 76).

This meant that the USA did not need to try to maintain its currency value. All countries had to acquire the dollar; there was no need for the dollar to be defended at any particular rate of exchange. By 1949 the US had acquired 72 % of the world’s gold. The Bretton Woods Proposal had been resisted by Lord Maynard Keynes of Britain, but to no avail. This Agreement eased the post war period for the USA, because all other Central Banks had to have a dollar reserve:

“Making the dollar a reserve currency meant that central bankers round the world had to have dollars. They had to buy dollars in the marketplace which pushed up the price of the dollar up, threatening the parity of the currency with the dollar. Thus they could only buy when the dollar was weak… This suited the US and the US Federal Reserve which could follow a very lax monetary policy to make sure that there were always dollars to go around. It worked wonders for post-war US domestic policy, helping promote the wartime dream of full employment.”

(Bose, Mihir “The Crash” London, 1988. p.135).

The USA was in an unusual position of dominance. It had funded the war for the Western capitalist allies, detonated the Atom bomb thereby showing its military dominance, and had a home base that was unaffected to a large extent by the war. It proceeded to further dictate terms, to ensure its vote in the IMF on decisions, was a veto:

“In order to finance European and other foreign purchases from America, that is to ensure adequate financial resources to sustain US exports, (“world trade”) the US Government had taken the lead in 1944 at Bretton Woods to establish the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Loans were provided by the U.S. Government and US credit markets via the World Bank to European governments, which used them mainly to pay for goods supplied by American exporters. The source of the original loan funds provided by the IMF came from foreign currency and gold subscriptions by the participating nations. America’s subscription amounted to almost $3 billion and entitled it to nearly 30% of the voting power. The member nations agreed that an 80% majority vote would be required for most rulings, thus conceding unique veto power to the US… Europe was fully aware that it was ceding to America the option of determining its own currency values and tariffs. The US was the only nation with sufficient foreign exchange to finance a program of overseas investments, long term financing and foreign aid…”

(Hudson, Michael. Global Fracture, the new international Economic Order. New York, 1977. p.11-12).

Such a ceding of power to the USA was self-evident as any debts to the USA were only made payable in dollars or gold. The Bretton Woods Agreement had after all made the dollar “as good as gold.” The USA actively hoarded gold. Until 1958 and the Korean war the gold stocks of the USA remained exceedingly high, in correspondence with the USA stipulations on repayment). The USA also ensured that the major European powers joined the Gold Pool. This served:

“To ensure that the gold parity of the dollar would be supported by the central banks, the European ones mainly, who would thus have to sell central bank’s stocks of gold as the occasion demanded. The price of gold was kept artificially low at a time when the price of goods was rising. The dollar thus stayed as good as gold and the US was freed from the threat of having to support the gold parity of the dollar by itself, or of seeing gold overtake the dollar as an international reserve instrument which remained a theoretical possibility in the framework of the Bretton Woods Agreement. The US spared no efforts in its campaign to impose and maintain the Gold Standard.”

(Fiit,Yann, Faire, Alexandre, and Vigier, Jean-Pierre; (“The World Economic Crisis, US imperialism at Bay”; London, 1980; p.76.;p.83).

Britain was being firmly eclipsed by the USA as the foremost imperialist. The pivotal point forcing even the most stubborn British imperialists to recognise this, came in the Suez disaster of 1956 (these events were described in “The Gulf war – the USA Imperialists Bid To Recapture World Supremacy” at

Meanwhile the other European capitalists searched for ways to move into more independence. This was a slow process. The USA continued to exert major obstruction to real independence for some time. Within each of the major European states, some elements were more inclined towards the USA (i.e. compradors – the so-called pro-‘Atlantic’ bourgeoisie), some were more interested in maintaining an independent sovereignty (the so-called ’Euro-nationalists’). These tensions played out over decades, spanning three “waves” of USA offensives:

“Three successive strategies of Atlantic unity .. corresponded to the different offensives periods of American capitalism. The first was Roosevelt’s concept of Atlantic universalism, which derived its specific Atlantic dimension from the American focus of World War Two and the key position of the British Empire in the world America wanted to expand into. The second version of Atlantic unity was the Atlantic Union idea, which surfaced at the time of the Marshall Plan and combined a status quo approach to control of the periphery with a high-pitched Cold War unity against the Soviet Union. The third Atlantic strategy was the Atlantic partnership scheme promulgated by President Kennedy in an attempt to restore unity of purpose to an Atlantic world in which the establishment of a restrictive EEC demonstrated the degree to which Western European capital had emancipated itself from American tutelage and was intent on carving out a sphere-of-interest of its own.”

(Van Der Pijl, K; Ibid; p.xxxiv; London 2012).

The so-called Atlanticists (the comprador bourgeoisie for the USA – a term usually reserved for countries of colonial or semi-colonial status) were largely representatives of finance capital. These were interested in the freedom of shipping capital reserves freely across international boundaries. They are also termed “liberal internationalists” by van der Pijil.

In contrast the “Euro-nationalists” represented industrial capital – and were interested in ensuring reinvestment in and redeveloping a European heavy industrial base. They supported single ‘sovereign’ or independent, state funding of heavy industry and can be termed state monopolists .

As an internal intra-European battle between these two segments of capital occurred, the USA imperialists initially favoured steps to a pan-European supra-national state. Of course this single supra-national state, has still not been achieved. However between 1945-1998 – there were periods where the European Euronationalist capitalist powers waxed and waned, as USA imperialism counter attacked.

Regardless of whose interests it served, the overall tendency was towards a move for unity of the smaller European countries. Only later was directed against the USA hegemony. The class character of the European coalescing would shift form a pro-USA vassal coalition to an anti-USA coalition. Ultimately this would end up being dominated by the German bourgeoisie.

Through this period, the fading British imperialists continued to rely and favour USA imperialism. In fact it was actually Ernest Bevin, British Foreign Secretary who first proposed the NATO alliance:

“The actual initiative to found a North Atlantic military alliance was taken by Ernest Bevin in 1948 following a series of defence treaties between Western European states… Bevin .. in early 1948, urged … formal Atlantic cohesion of a political nature.. to USA Ambassador Lew Douglas.. the treaty establishing the NATO was concluded in April 1949”

(Van Pijl Ibid p. 157).

Early on French imperialism, as represented by General De Gaulle, wished to utilise USA strength to stand against the USA. The early events were summarised as below:

“The war encouraged a proliferation of new schemes for European regional organisation. De Gaulle for instance repeatedly voiced the idea that European unity might be a bulwark against both the Soviet Union and the United States, and comparable arguments were heard in various segments of the German, Italian, and Dutch bourgeoisie Resistances….

Churchill’s proposal for a Council of Europe provides probably the best example of the (Atlanticist) concept of European unity… coupled to Britain’s desire to maintain its special link with the Commonwealth and the United States.. “

(Van Der Pijl, K. Ibid; p26; London 2012).

In contrast:

“The Euronational concept combined a number of state-monopolisitic attributes like a strong emphasis on a “European” economic policy with a distinct rejection of Atlantic unity” ;

(Van Der Pijl, K. Ibid; p26; London 2012).

The first USA steps to infiltrate Europe were actually before the Second World War. In most accounts, Jean Monnet the post-war Finance Minster of France figures prominently:

“Jean Monnet… was perhaps one of the foremost in the European postwar leaders to see the necessity of a coalition of European countries…. As early as 1921 Monnet had advised Eduard Benes: To address the problem of the weakness of Central European economic by establishing a “federation because of the region formed a “natural economic unit.”

(James Laxer. “Inventing Europe”; Toronto, 1991.p. 27).

Later in the Second World War: 

“Writing on behalf of the French Committee of National Liberation, Monnet for the first time advocated the formation of a federation of European states to be established following the conflict..”

(Laxer, Ibid, p. 27).

But Jean Monnet was in reality, a pro-USA comprador. He had spent many years working in banking in the USA and had married a scion of the US ruling classes. Ultimately he saw not a rivalry between the USA and pan-Europe, but a partnership, which later USA President Kennedy was also to espouse (van Pijl p. 29):

“The most important representative of the Atlantic Partnership, or Euramerican concept in France was Jean Monnet. 1962 was Monnet’s year of triumph, in which he thought the partnership of equals between the US and the EEC, by which the Soviet union could be effectively checked, was actually materializing. In Monnet’s view this would entail European military autonomy as well. ‘Equal partnership must also apply to the responsibilities of common defense, it requires amongst other things, the organisation of a European atomic force including Britain and in partnership with the US.”

(Van der Pijl: Ibid; P. 225).

Monnet’s relationship with the USA ruling class representatives of capital was close at even a personal level:

“There is no doubt.. Monnet’s initiatives .. owed much to American encouragement. His decisive advantage was the closeness of his association with the USA political elite.. the Dulles brothers, Acheson, Harriman, McCloy, Ball and Brice and others.. he was to become widely distrusted in his own country because of it..”

(Anderson, Perry. “The New Old World”; London 2009 p.15)

“Monnet’s strength as an architect of integration (i.e. of Europe – ed) did not lie in any particular leverage with European cabinets… but in his direct line to Washington.”

(Anderson, Perry. Ibid; p. 17)

By May 1949, the first concrete post-war steps for uniting Europe into a pro-Atlantic (i.e. pro-USA) bloc led to the Statute of the Council of Europe.

On 9 May 1950, the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed to integrate the coal and steel industries of Europe. The Schumann Proposal for the European Iron and Steel Community, was designed to form a competitive market in iron and steel, using substantial public sector capital. Britain refused to join at that stage. By 1958, trade in the ECSC in steel had increased by 157% and steel output by 65% (Laxer, p. 38).

In “Alliance Marxist-Leninist” of October 1992, the Schumann Plan was portrayed as an anti-American move; and Jean Monnet as a Euronationalist. Alliance was incorrect in this analysis. (Alliance Marxist-Leninist ALLIANCE (MARXIST-LENINIST (Number 3, October 1992) “Crisis In Capital And Their Solution – Free Trade And Protectionism In Developed Countries”

The reality was far more complex. In fact the USA had argued that the Schumann Plan was of use since:

“Secretary of State Acheson in 1951 estimated that the Schumann Plan was useful.. since it would “pull Germany, certainly Western Germany into economic relationship with Europe. It will tie it in and lay a foundation which will ally fears the Germany might come loose and go off on an independent or pro-Russian policy.”

(van Pijl Ibid p. 157) .

The USA imperialists with their European stooges – and even with the Euro-nationalists – at this stage all continued to agree that Europe needed to unite. The vision of many planners of USA strategy, was akin to that of Paul Hoffman – leading member of the Committee headed by Averell Harriman secretary of Commerce – speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1950:

“We know that there is no possibility of Europe becoming the kind of an economy that will make it a great force of strength in the Atlantic community unless we break down the barriers between those 17 political subdivisions with which we are working… so that you have a single market, or something close to it, in which you will have large-scale manufacturing because you have a large market in which to sell it.”

(Van Pijl Ibid p. 197)

Britain and France after Suez, had to accept that in the immediate future, their only role on the world stage would be as a junior partner to USA imperialism. They threw their lot in with the Americans. The USA used their influence with the British to disrupt attempts at a defence force independent of the US.

But as the USA became ever more hegemonic in Europe, De Gaulle and others turned to resist USA incursion. This was forseen by J.V.Stalin:

“Britain and France .. are imperialist countries.. Can it be assumed that they will endlessly tolerate the present situation in which.. Americans are penetrating into the economies of Britain and France and trying to convert them into adjuncts of the USA economy?

…Would it not be truer to say that capitalist Britain and France will be 
compelled in the end to break from the embrace of the USA and enter into conflict with it in order to secure an independent position and of course high profits?”

(J.V. Stalin, “Economic problems of the Socialism in the USSR”; Moscow, 1952. p. 38).

The loosening of the dependency chains on European nations formed by the credit of the USA Marshall Plan would take several interim steps.

By 1957, the Treaty of Rome was signed which established the European Economic Community (EEC). Consistent with its overall European strategy, the formation of the EEC was supported by the USA. In fact:

Eisenhower (said) .. that the Treaty of Rome would be one of the finest days in the history of the free world, perhaps even more so than winning the war”;

(Anderson; Ibid; p. 18).

There was now a dramatic opening of the European market for financial penetration – to take over European industries, as well as their markets:

“The shift from commercial to financial penetration (ie of Europe – by the USA -ed) was confirmed by the formation of the EEC. The Common Market dramatically changed American prospects for expansion in this respect.“

(Van der Pijil; Ibid, p.193)

In reply to De Gaulle, the USA attempted to weaken the development of the future European Union, by using its stooge the weak British imperialists. Thereupon French General De Gaulle later on vetoed the entry of Great Britain into the EEC for precisely this reason.

By the time of Nixon and Kissinger, the situation had shifted. Now the USA perceived the threat in the now built up European Community:

“(they) started to perceive the potential for a rival great power in Western Europe”;

(Anderson Ibid p. 21).

How had things changed so dramatically? The balance of power between the Euronationalists and the pro-US Atlanticists had changed after the rise of the dollar hegemony. To recap, the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944 to stay on a gold convertibility was simply put aside by the USA. By the 1960s, under USA President Johnson, inflation was created by printing more dollars. This enabled the USA to fund the Vietnam War and its limited social reforms of the so-called ‘Great Society” (Dean & Pringle Ibid p.80; Palmer Ibid p.61). This had dire consequences:

“The net result in the succeeding decades was a scale of Federal domestic budget deficit and increasingly, balance of payments deficit without precedent in US history. At first the deficits and consequential outflow of dollars into the world economy had been regarded as benign.. The deficits initially helped to finance the mutual economic recovery of Americans’ allied (and client) economies. But as the outflow of dollars turned into a might flood, American control over banks grew by leaps and bounds, Between 1970 and 1975 the assets of overseas branches of US banks grew from $47 billion to $166 billion. The over-valued US dollar came to be seen as the means by which European industry was being acquired cheaply by US interests… fears were expressed that Western Europe was being turned into a fiefdom of US multinationals.. By the late 1960s the gap between the US dollar’s internal purchasing power and its international value had widened alarmingly. The Europeans were faced with the choice of either accepting these depreciating dollars (and thus, in effect, of subsidizing the American economy and worldwide military and political commitments) or exploiting America’s Bretton Woods commitment to swap dollars for gold at the fixed prices.”

(Palmer Ibid p. 62).

De Gaulle remarked early on, that this was a USA attack using dollarization of the world economy, and warned that:

“The Americans only used the atom device twice on Asia. … but they use the dollar on Europe every day”

(Cited Palmer, John: “Europe without America? The crisis in Atlantic Relations”; Oxford; 1988; p.62)

Essentially the USA was pursuing a policy of financial export to drive acquisition of European industrial and financial companies. Simultaneously it unwittingly began the financialization driving world inflation – from ‘hot money’. European nationalist leaders of many countries objected. As well as De Gaulle, French President Giscard d’Estaing objected:

“It is rather remarkable that the war in Vietnam, a localized conflict of a very special nature involving a great power and a small power could have such a far reaching effects on world economic equilibrium.. Any other country that was faced with a balance-of-payment deficit of this magnitude would have been obliged to take steps to restore balance whereas the US was not obliged to do so; the method of financing its deficit exempted it from having to restore equilibrium and it was therefore a system which caused considerable inequality in the interplay of monetary power…”

(Hudson, Michael, Global Fracture, the new international Economic Order. New York, 1977; p.31).

In another more serious threat to USA hegemony, the German state had become more pro-independent. Earlier leaders (Konrad Ardenauer Chancellor [1949-1962] and Ludwig Erhard [Chancellor 1963-1965]) of post-war West Germany had been resolutely pro-USA. The attitude of later German leaders can be gauged from a remark made by Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (Chancellor 1974-1982) when he decried:

“The misuse of the dollar as an instrument of US foreign policy.”

(Cited Palmer John: “Europe without America? The crisis in Atlantic Relations”; Oxford; 1988; p. 10)

This reaction against the USA had its counterpart in Britain in the Westland Helicopter crisis, where Defence Minister Michael Hesletine revolted against Mrs Thatcher. He was soon despatched by the stalwart pro-USA Mrs Thatcher. This was pointed out by the Communist League at the time.

The salient point is that the USA fiscal policies prompted the Euronationalists to move towards the European Monetary System (EMS) and before that the Snake. This then became the European Monetary Union (EMU):

“European Community alarm at the misuse of the dollar’s privileged position in the world currency system encouraged the EEC states to distance themselves in monetary policy from the US in the late 1970’s. President Valery Giscard D’Estaing of France led – despite British opposition – to the creation of … the EMS.. the breakup of the dollar-dominated monetary system also marked the end of the earlier Atlantic consensus enshrined in the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944”;

(Palmer J ibid p. 11).

In Alliance Marxist-Leninist Number 3, 1992, we traced the rise of the European Union and the emerging hegemonic role of the unified single German State – after the disintegration of the Comecon states including former East Germany.

We concluded Alliance 3 by characterising the then inter-imperial rivalries as follows:

The current crisis of capital forces formation of blocs.

The current epoch is one of a disintegration of the power of the USA imperialists and an increase in power of the German and thereby European imperialists and the Japanese imperialists. Each of these competitors strive to create a super trading bloc; within whose borders free trade (or ‘ freer trade’) occurs. Outside of the bloc, protectionism is the policy.

These policies result from the major crisis of over-production that the world is experiencing. The final rupture of the Comecon capitalist block offers the only untapped market; and so the Blocs are trying to extend themselves into the ex-Comecon markets.

In the case of the USA Free Trade Bloc being set up between Mexico, the USA and Canada; the Block is clearly under the domination of the USA. Here there is no effective balance between opposing international imperialism. The differences between the European imperialists do allow for a certain balance; this is not achievable between the USA and Canada; and less so between USA and Mexico.

….. The European Economic Community is more delicately balanced between the competing imperialists. Of the nations within the fold, only Britain (now a junior partner) has significant allegiance to the USA. The others are far more committed to the EEC; even risking domination by Germany.

In the Far East, it is likely that a massive trading bloc between Japan and China is going to make it impossible for many of the Pacific basin nations not to enter an alliance dominated by the Japanese imperialists.

These maneuvers are the first salvoes of the next World War.”

(Alliance 3: Ibid:

We believe that these assessments – overall – remain correct. They are also, consistent with Stalin’s famous prediction that under capitalism competitive wars for markets were inevitable, and that sooner or later – Europe would chafe under USA domination:

“Inevitability of Wars between Capitalist Countries”; Some comrades think that owing to the development of new international conditions since the Second World War, wars between capitalist countries have ceased to be inevitable. These comrades are mistaken. Outwardly everything would seem to be going well; the USA has put Western Europe, Japan, and other capitalist countries on rations; Germany (Western), Britain, France, Italy & Japan have fallen into the clutches of the USA and are meekly obeying its commands. But it would be mistaken to think that things can continue to “go well” for ” all eternity”, that these countries will tolerate the domination and oppression of the United States endlessly, that they will not endeavor to tear loose from American bondage and take the part of independent development.”

(Stalin; ‘Economic Problems of the USSR”: Peking; p.33).

Now in 2015, as we update the picture in 2015, the basic rhythm of inter-imperialist struggle has not changed dramatically but become even more intense. The final crumbling of the ex-Comecon countries postponed the ‘final reckoning’ of the European and USA rivalries. And yet rivalries have sharpened with the entry of China into the leading echelons of imperialist rivalry. In this period:

i) Germany has benefited the most and now become the leading (if not yet quite hegemonic) partner of the imperialist coalition of the EU.

ii) The EU has expanded enormously to now include the so-called Southern fringe (including Greece, Portugal, Spain, with continuing discussion with Turkey); and the ex-Comecon countries.

iii) There has been a renewed attempt of the Russian bourgeoisie led by Putin to recreate its own imperial zone.

iv) China has dramatically enhanced its imperial might and come to near logger-heads with the neighboring Pacific Oceanic states – in particular those nations most tied to the USA (Japan, Philippines).

v) The most advanced of the former under-developed colonised world (Brazil, India) have been organized by the renewed Chinese imperialists into conglomerates that pose increasing challenges to both the USA and EU hegemony. Namely BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and the newly created International Bank.

The still unresolved contradiction at the heart of the European Community

Of course the EU has a major problem: Even now, it is not a unitary state with unitary fiscal policies. Although the leaders of the EU wish to concentrate power against the USA, they are unwilling to cede complete national autonomy to a Supra-European force – (namely the European Union based at Brussels). However while EU leaders can attempt to combine the monetary resources, unless there is a complete political unity – there are centrifugal forces they cannot control. For this would require to be overcome, a single unitary Bank.

This is far from a new realisation. The insoluble contradiction was pointed out by astute economists long ago such as Lord Nicholas Kaldor (1908-1986). Kaldor was a Keynesian, who polemicized against both Milton Friedman and Mrs. Thatcher’s worship of monetarism. He cited Keynes to say:

“Keynes (a pamphlet far ahead of the times and ahead of much of his own future writing on the subject), in which he branded monetary policy as ‘simply a campaign against the standard of life of the working classes’, operating through the ‘deliberate intensification of unemployment . . . by using the weapon of economic necessity against individuals and against particular industries — a policy which the country would never permit if it knew what was being done’.

(J. M. Keynes, The Economic Consequences of Mr. Churchill (London, 1925), reprinted in the Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes Vol. IX (London, 1972), pp. 207-30; Cited Foreword Second edition; Kaldor, N: The Scourge of Monetarism”; Oxford 1986.

In 1971, Kaldor pointed out that in the proposed Eurozone, there would be a tendency for some countries “to acquire increasing (and unwanted surpluses) in their trade with other members, whilst others face increasing deficits”. This could only be overcome he foresaw, by fuller political union:

“The events of the last few years … have demonstrated that the Community is not viable with its present degree of economic integration. The system presupposes full currency convertibility and fixed exchange rates among the members, whilst leaving monetary and fiscal policy to the discretion of the individual member countries. Under this system, as events have shown, some countries will tend to acquire increasing (and unwanted surpluses) in their trade with other members, whist others face increasing deficits. This has two unwelcome effects. It transmits inflationary pressures emanating from some members to other members; and it causes the surplus countries to provide automatic finance on an increasing scale to the deficit countries.

Since exchange-rate adjustments or “floating rates” between members are held to be incompatible with the basic aim of economic integration (and are incompatible also with the present system of common agricultural prices fixed in international units) the governments of the Six, at their Summit meeting in The Hague in December 1969, agreed in principle to the creation of a full economic and monetary union, and appointed a high-level committee (the so-called “Werner Committee”) to work out a concrete programme of action..”

(Nicholas Kaldor On European Political Union Cited by Ramanan, 6 November 2012; in The Case For Concerted Action Post-Keynesian Ideas For A Crisis That Conventional Remedies Cannot Resolve; at

Those planning a momentary union explicitly recognised that in the ultimate “third phase” the “individual central beings (being) would be abolished altogether, or reduced to the state of the old colonial “Currency Boards”:

“The realisation of economic and monetary union, as recommended in the Werner Report, involves three kinds of measures, each introduced in stages: monetary union, tax harmonisation, and central community control over national budgets.  It envisages a three-stage programme, with each stage lasting about three years, so that the whole plan is designed to be brought into operation by 1978-80.

In the monetary field in the first stage the interest and credit policy of each central bank is increasingly brought under common Community surveillance and permitted margins of variations between exchange rates are reduced or eliminated. In the second stage exchange rates are made immutable and “autonomous parity adjustments” are totally excluded. In the third stage the individual central banks are abolished altogether, or reduced to the status of the old colonial “Currency Boards” without any credit creating power.”

(Nicholas Kaldor Ibid)

Other political issues would also pose problems including the harmonisation of tax differences and differing budget polices requiring “fiscal standardisation” between countries:

“In the field of tax harmonisation it is envisaged that each country’s system should be increasingly aligned to that of other countries, and that there should be “fiscal standardisation” to permit the complete abolition of fiscal frontiers, which means not only identical forms but also identical rates of taxation, particularly in regard to the value added tax and excise duties.

In the field of budgetary control the Werner Report says “the essential elements of the whole of the public budgets, and in particular variations in their volume, the size of balances and the methods of financing or utilizing them, will be decided at the Community level.”

(Nicholas Kaldor Ibid)

However, ominously for the proponents of a single currency – responsibilities to have individual country Budgets and tax polices set centrally – were not envisaged as necessary. This was according to Kaldor, “the basic contradiction”:

“What is not envisaged is that the main responsibility for public expenditure and taxation should be transferred from the national Governments to the Community. Each member will continue to be responsible for raising the revenue for its own expenditure (apart from the special taxes which are paid to finance the Community’s own budget but which will remain a relatively small proportion of total public expenditure and mainly serve the purposes of the Agriculture Fund and other development aid).

And herein lies the basic contradiction of the whole plan.”

(Nicholas Kaldor Ibid)

Kaldor argued this had to have harsh implications for inequity in the well-being of the peoples of different countries. It was clear that unless “harmonisation” of country provision of benefits paid through by taxation – was ensured, there would be rising inequity:

“For the Community also envisages that the scale of provision of public services (such as the social services) should be “harmonised” – i.e., that each country should provide such benefits on the same scale as the others and be responsible for financing them by taxation raised from its own citizens. This clearly cannot be done with equal rates of taxation unless all Community members are equally prosperous and increase their prosperity at the same rate as the other members. Otherwise the taxation of the less prosperous and/or the slower-growing countries is bound to be higher (or rise faster) than that of the more prosperous (or faster-growing) areas.”

(Nicholas Kaldor Ibid)

In turn, this rising inequity in the poorer countries would likely need to be countered by spiraling taxes, in order to maintain a “fiscal balance” with the remained of “the Community.” But this would then become the source of “vicious circle” as these higher taxes would lead to a further compromise of the less “competitive” countries. Worsening of the inter-country inequity would need for distributing relief funds from the center:

“The Community will control each member country’s fiscal balance – i.e., it will ensure that each country will raise enough in taxation to prevent it from getting into imbalance with other members on account of its fiscal deficit. To ensure this the taxes in the slow growing areas are bound to be increased faster; this in itself will generate a vicious circle, since with rising taxation they become less competitive and fall behind even more, thereby necessitating higher social expenditures (on unemployment benefits, etc.) and more restrictive fiscal policies. A system on these lines would create rapidly growing inequalities between the different countries, and is bound to break down in a relatively short time. …

This is only another way of saying that the objective of a full monetary and economic union is unattainable without a political union; and the latter pre-supposes fiscal integration, and not just fiscal harmonisation. It requires the creation of a Community Government and Parliament which takes over the responsibility for at least the major part of the expenditure now provided by national governments and finances it by taxes raised at uniform rates throughout the Community. With an integrated system of this kind, the prosperous areas automatically subside the poorer areas; and the areas whose exports are declining obtain automatic relief by paying in less, and receiving more, from the central Exchequer. The cumulative tendencies to progress and decline are thus held in check by a “built-in” fiscal stabiliser which makes the “surplus” areas provide automatic fiscal aid to the “deficit” areas.

(Kaldor, Nicholas “On European Political Union Ibid)

Kaldor concluded that the Community’s present plan was like the house which “divided against itself cannot stand” and that “it was “dangerous error: to have a “full economic and monetary union” preceding a political union”:

“The Community’s present plan on the other hand is like the house which “divided against itself cannot stand.” Monetary union and Community control over budgets will prevent a member country from pursuing full employment policies on its own – from taking steps to offset any sharp decline in the level of its production and employment, but without the benefit of a strong Community government which would shield its inhabitants from its worst consequences.

Some day the nations of Europe may be ready to merge their national identities and create a new European Union – the United States of Europe. If and when they do, a European Government will take over all the functions which the Federal government now provides in the U.S., or in Canada or Australia. This will involve the creation of a “full economic and monetary union”. But it is a dangerous error to believe that monetary and economic union can precede a political union or that it will act (in the words of the Werner report) “as a leaven for the evolvement of a political union which in the long run it will in any case be unable to do without”. For if the creation of a monetary union and Community control over national budgets generates pressures which lead to a breakdown of the whole system it will prevent the development of a political union, not promote it.”

(Nicholas Kaldor Ibid)

We believe that the current crisis in Greece, fully confirms these warning. However Kaldor being a representative of the ruling capitalist class in Britain, could hardly envisage a political solution of benefit to the goals of achieving a socialist Europe. It is in this backdrop, that the Greek Crisis plays out.

6. The Greek Economic Crisis 2009-2015 – How did it get to this stage?

Throughout the turn towards Europe, the ruling class of Greece faced the hostility of the Greek working class and the rural small peasants. Nonetheless the ruling class allied itself firmly to the European imperialist bloc of the European Union (Previously the EEC). To recap: the Greek state opened the doors to foreign debt. From the viewpoint of a small capitalist class, who were not about to enter a left policy – there was no alternative. In doing so they also built a bureaucratic state machine, packed with protégés of the states. In addition the overwhelming strength of petit-bourgeois production – combined to allow a nepotistic and corrupt state. In this period, the Greek capitalist economy did not do very well.

In reality profits for the leading elite of the Greek capitalist class were immense. While the international financial capitalists are a giant leech on the back of the people, the main enemy of working people, remains the Greek capitalist class.

A common complaint from European bankers is that the Greek people are lazy and inherently corrupt. This propaganda has found resonance in otherwise progressive and people – who are themselves hard-pressed by capital. It is therefore important to refute the slander on “the lazy Greek people” – and attach the charge of laziness and parasitism to where it belongs – to the ruling capitalist class of Greece. The propaganda often cites the “lax tax laws” and the ‘pampered pension clauses’. Let us examine these aspects first.

i) Tax and Pensions in Greece

The capitalist class structured the tax system to its advantage, and also enabled the petit-bourgeois:

“Greek taxation is a mess (there are six different bands and the wealthiest band of shipping is often referred to as a “tax-free zone”) and over 133 separate pension funds.” Buchanan, Rose T; “Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess”; The Independent 4 July 2015;

“Data from one of Greece’s ten largest banks, (allowed) economists Nikolaos Artavanis, Adair Morse and Margarita (estimate lost tax revenue)…. The economists’ conservatively estimate that in 2009 some €28 billion in income went unreported. Taxed at 40%, that equates to €11.2 billion — nearly a third of Greece’s budget deficit.
Why hasn’t Greece done more to stop tax evasion? The economists were also able to identify the top tax-evading occupations — doctors and engineers ranked highest — and found they were heavily represented in Parliament”.

“Greeks Hide Tens of Billions From Tax Man”; Wall St Journal 9 July 2012.

The scandal of refusal to take action on the “Lagarde List”, makes the responsibility of the Greek ruling class for the “tax imbroglio” even more clear:

“The Greek government has not completed an investigation of a list of 1,991 persons purported to hold accounts with Swiss bank HSBC that it received in 2010 from former French finance minister Christine Lagarde. Initially, officials claimed at various times to have lost or misplaced the information. On 29 October 2012 the government changed its position saying it would not use stolen information to prosecute suspected offenders. Instead, Greek authorities arrested Kostas Vaxevanis, journalist and editor of the weekly magazine Hot Doc, who published the “Lagarde list.”

The list includes an advisor to former Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras, as well as a former minister and a member of Samaras’ New Democracy political party. The list also contains the names of officials in the finance ministry.
Mr. Vaxevanis said he thought the government had not acted on the list because it included friends of ministers, businessmen and powerful publishers.


ii) Pensions

First if examined by unadjusted numbers it does appear that the Greek pension system is the most expensive in the OECD countries. We follow the Wall Street Journal analysis of February 2015 (Dalton, Matthew: “Greece’s Pension System Isn’t That Generous After All”; February 27 2015;

Graphs 1-3 on Pensions In Greece
“First, how much does Greece spend as percentage of GDP on pensions? The data from Eurostat looks like this as of 2012, with Greece expenditure easily highest in the eurozone as a percentage of GDP:


However – the Wall Street Journal goes on to break this down, first as a percent of GDP and then by the proportion of pensioners over the age of 65 years:

“But part of that is due to the collapse in GDP suffered by Greece during the crisis… look at pension expenditure as a percentage of potential GDP, the level of economic output were eurozone economies running at full capacity:


“Greece is still near the top, though it’s not so far from the eurozone average. Moreover, Greece’s high spending is largely the result of bad demographics: 20% of Greeks are over age 65, one of the highest percentages in the eurozone. What if instead you attempt to adjust for that by looking at pension spending per person over 65 (graph below). Adjusting for the fact that Greece has a lot of older people, its pension spending is below the eurozone average.”


And finally a large proportion of the population are pensioners over 65 and many households depend on the pension:

“First, demographics. About 20.5% of Greeks are over 65 – behind only Italy and Germany in the EU when it comes to an ageing population. And with the country’s youth unemployment rate still above 50%, its young people are not going to be able to pay for their grandparents pensions any time soon.

Second, Greek society has a dependency on pensioners. One in two households rely on pensions to make ends meet and the country has an old-age dependancy ratio above 30%, which means that for every 100 people of working age in Greece there are 30 people aged 65 or over.

Third, Greek pensions aren’t so generous. About 45% of pensioners receive pensions below what is considered the poverty limit of €665 per month.
Looking at the actual expenditure on beneficiaries, Greece’s figures don’t stand out as exceptional and are instead on par with the EU average.”

(Nardelli, Alberto: “ Unsustainable futures? The Greek pensions dilemma explained“; Guardian, 15 June 2015; at

There is no doubt a large financial burden form the pension schemes – but they provide at an individual level a very modest income:

“What makes the country’s pension system unsustainable is not the specific size of each individual pension, but the overall cost of a grossly inefficient and badly funded system (yes, mainly due to of decades of endemic tax evasion that means as much tax revenue slips through Athens’ fingers as it collects). According to analysis by Macropolis, the average pension in Greece is roughly €700 per month, while the supplementary one is €169.
The same analysis also shows that nearly 90% (€2.07bn) of the total monthly expenditure (€2.35bn) on pensions in March went towards the main pension.
It also reveals that only 0.6% of supplementary pensions were above €500 a month.
For 60% of pensioners the total gross monthly intake is below €800. In addition, many retirees in Greece have already seen their pensions cut. Some by a third, others by nearly 50%.

(Nardelli,; Guardian, 15 June 2015; Ibid)

Moreover, although cutting them might shave off some debt – not only is this unable to repair the basic financial problem of a dependent economy:

“In 2012, pension funds, which were obliged under a law introduced in 1950 by the then king of Greece, Paul I, to keep a minimum of 77% of their assets in government bonds, took an €8.3bn hit following the restructuring of sovereign debt.
Nearly a third of what pension funds have lost since then is due to a fall in contributions on the back of surging unemployment. The unemployment rate is still painfully high (26.6%, while in 2009 it was 9.5%), and nearly eight out of 10 of the country’s jobless have been out of work for 12 months or more.
Any saving brought about by simply purging early retirees’ benefits, cutting supplementary pensions horizontally across the board, or revenue raised by squeezing a drastically depleted pool of taxpayers, would in the short-term allow Greece to unlock the €7bn tranche of bailout funds it needs to carry on servicing its debt (and not default).
However, it would do little to solve the underlying challenges in the longer term.”

(Nardelli,; Guardian, 15 June 2015; Ibid)

Debt and printing money drive Greek Inflation

As discussed in prior sections, the ruling class used inflationary funding to enable it to fool and quieten the working classes. The scale of this is shown below.

“Greece has had a tricky time with its finances. In the 1990s it consistently ran significant budget deficits while using the Drachma. As a result of this economic mismanagement it joined the Euro in 2001, rather than 1999 like many other EU nations.” (Buchanan, Rose T; “Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess”; The Independent 4 July 2015;

The following Graph 4, from the ‘Michael Roberts Blog,” tracks the inflation to the deflation tipping point, after the debt crisis became evident:


(Roberts M; ‘Greece Cannot Escape”; 2nd Nov 2014:

However, once it was in the Eurozone, Greece’s government could no longer so easily use inflationary economics to easily boost living standards, as it was bound by the Eurozone and the single currency.

The alternative of devaluing its currency to boost its exports was also not possible. This left only loans. Since it was now the era of financial ‘hot money’ and rampant money-speculation had become standard, this was easy at first, and the inflation graph shows that even the loan-injection money fueled a degree of inflation. But the spigot was soon to be turned off with the Wall Street crash:

“Shortly after joining the single currency, Greece enjoyed a period of growth (2001-2007). However, economist and analysts have retrospectively labeled this boom as “unsustainable,” pointing out that Greece (very broadly speaking) profited off the cheap loans available from the EU. This house of cards came tumbling down with the financial crash of 2008. Like many other countries in the EU Greece was seriously affected, but it was unable to climb out of the hole as it had in the past by printing more currency (thus boosting the economy) as the Euro was controlled by the European Central Bank (ECB). Unemployment spiraled to 28 per cent.”

(Buchanan, Rose T; “Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess”; The Independent 4 July 2015;

Greece’s relationship to the EU was as a dependent colony to the leading capitalist countries of the EU. These were of course Germany and also France.
International agencies progressively lent Greek governments large amounts of money. Consequently, Greece progressively developed an external debt of gigantic proportions as seen below in the brown/dark red line (Graph 5):


What is the nature of these debt burdens that the Greek government faces?
The German locomotive pushing the EU economy – needed markets. The “under-developed” Southern perimeter of the EU was one of the natural “new” markets:

“Economist Paul Krugman wrote in February 2012:

“What we’re basically looking at…is a balance of payments problem, in which capital flooded south after the creation of the euro, leading to overvaluation in southern Europe.”

He continued in June 2015:

“In truth, this has never been a fiscal crisis at its root; it has always been a balance of payments crisis that manifests itself in part in budget problems, which have then been pushed onto the center of the stage by ideology.”

The translation of trade deficits to budget deficits works through sectoral balances. Greece ran current account (trade) deficits averaging 9.1% GDP from 2000–2011. By definition, a trade deficit requires capital inflow (mainly borrowing) to fund; this is referred to as a capital surplus or foreign financial surplus. This can drive higher levels of government budget deficits, if the private sector maintains relatively even amounts of savings and investment, as the three financial sectors (foreign, government, and private) by definition must balance to zero.
While Greece was running a large foreign financial surplus, it funded this by running a large budget deficit. As the inflow of money stopped during the crisis, reducing the foreign financial surplus, Greece was forced to reduce its budget deficit substantially. Countries facing such a sudden reversal in capital flows typically devalue their currencies to resume the inflow of capital; however, Greece cannot do this, and has suffered significant income (GDP) reduction, another form of devaluation.”


Lord Kaldor’s warnings about this developing were discussed above.

Who owns this debt?

Graph 6: Current account imbalances in the European Union (1997–2014)

The graph below (from Wikipedia at:
shows that one of the major owners is Germany. In more detail, the ‘Economist Online” of October 2011 described the major ownership of the Greek debt. The main institutions owning the Greek debt are the IMF, the European Central Bank (ECB) and various European governments:

“Greece has total debts of €346.4bn. About a third of this debt is in public hands (34.8% is attributable to the IMF, ECB and European governments), roughly another third is in Greek hands (28.8%, essentially for banks) with the remainder (36.4%) held by non-Greek private investors.


And the New York Times Business news cites similar data:

“Almost two-thirds of Greece’s debt, about 200 billion euros, is owed to the eurozone bailout fund or other eurozone countries. Greece does not have to make any payments on that debt until 2023”. (Editor: Graph 7: below graphically displays the ownership of the debt.)


Greece’s debt crisis explained” – International Business; New York Times updated July 27, 2015

During this period, Greece’s finances were monitored by external agencies, largely those who had loaned monies to Greece. These were the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Community (EU) and the European Central Bank (ECB). These formed the so-called Troika. The Troika was to become hated by the Greek peoples as they plunged Greece into major social chaos and forced the living standards of the Greek people down.

As the New York Times comments, in many ways the “crisis” can be considered as a manufactured one as only a portion of debt is coming due in the short term:

“The International Monetary Fund has proposed extending the grace period until mid-century. So while Greece’s total debt is big—as much as double the country’s annual economic output—it might not matter much if the government did not need to make payments for decades to come. By the time the money came due, the Greek economy could have grown enough that the sum no longer seemed daunting.
In the short term, though, Greece has a problem making payments due on loans from the International Monetary Fund and on bonds held by the European Central Bank. Those obligations amount to more than 24 billion euros through the middle of 2018, and it is unlikely that either institution would agree to long delays in repayment.”
Greece’s debt crisis explained” – International Business; New York Times updated July 27, 2015

Two additional problems have conspired to make the “original sin” of debt – of even more enormous consequence.
Firstly, quite early on during this crisis, it was clear to the Troika lenders that the Greek government was in trouble in repaying any significant fraction of this debt. However this was ignored. In fact the IMF – despite its own rules and despite the worries about “default” – continued to fuel the fire of debt by giving more loans.

Then secondly, to worsen matters, the Greek government falsified data about the extent of its debt, and was helped by the greed of USA banking capital.

As early as 2004, in its negotiations with the EU, the ruling class of Greece falsified the degree of its debt. Goldman Sachs – the giant stockbroker and trader bank of Wall Street, aided the Greek government in doing this:

“In 2001, Greece was looking for ways to disguise its mounting financial troubles. The Maastricht Treaty required all Eurozone member states to show improvement in their public finances, but Greece was heading in the wrong direction. Then Goldman Sachs came to the rescue, arranging a secret loan of 2.8 billion euros for Greece, disguised as an off-the-books “cross-currency swap”—a complicated transaction in which Greece’s foreign-currency debt was converted into a domestic-currency obligation using a fictitious market exchange rate.

As a result, about 2 percent of Greece’s debt magically disappeared from its national accounts. Christoforos Sardelis, then head of Greece’s Public Debt Management Agency, later described the deal to Bloomberg Business as “a very sexy story between two sinners.” For its services, Goldman received a whopping 600 million euros ($793 million), according to Spyros Papanicolaou, who took over from Sardelis in 2005. That came to about 12 percent of Goldman’s revenue from its giant trading and principal-investments unit in 2001—which posted record sales that year. The unit was run by Blankfein.

Then the deal turned sour. After the 9/11 attacks, bond yields plunged, resulting in a big loss for Greece because of the formula Goldman had used to compute the country’s debt repayments under the swap. By 2005, Greece owed almost double what it had put into the deal, pushing its off-the-books debt from 2.8 billion euros to 5.1 billion. In 2005, the deal was restructured and that 5.1 billion euros in debt locked in. Perhaps not incidentally, Mario Draghi, now head of the European Central Bank and a major player in the current Greek drama, was then managing director of Goldman’s international division.”

(Robert B. Reich ‘How Goldman Sachs Profited From the Greek Debt Crisis”; The Nation16th July 2015;

Such was the pervasive greed, that of course such ‘creative’ financing’ was standard, as explained by Robert Reich:

“Greece wasn’t the only sinner. Until 2008, European Union accounting rules allowed member nations to manage their debt with so-called off-market rates in swaps, pushed by Goldman and other Wall Street banks. In the late 1990s, J.P.Morgan enabled Italy to hide its debt by swapping currency at a favorable exchange rate, thereby committing Italy to future payments that didn’t appear on its national accounts as future liabilities. But Greece was in the worst shape, and Goldman was the biggest enabler. Undoubtedly, Greece suffers from years of corruption and tax avoidance by its wealthy. But Goldman wasn’t an innocent bystander: It padded its profits by leveraging Greece to the hilt—along with much of the rest of the global economy. Other Wall Street banks did the same. When the bubble burst, all that leveraging pulled the world economy to its knees.”

(Robert B. Reich ‘How Goldman Sachs Profited From the Greek Debt Crisis”; The Nation16th July 2015;

Of course such greed driven lying enabled the Greek Government to gain more loans. This was of itself a problem since the country was developing intractable recession.

The Crisis heats up and the infamous Troika Memorandum

By 2009, significant fears that Greece would default on its loans prompted alarm. The Troika made moves to yet another loan – this time of $110 billion – but only if there were significant “austerity measures.” Of course this was intended to be an “austerity” for the working classes and not for the ruling classes:

“From late 2009, fears of a sovereign debt crisis developed among investors concerning Greece’s ability to meet its debt obligations due to strong increase in government debt levels. This led to a crisis of confidence, indicated by a widening of bond yield spreads and risk insurance on credit default swaps compared to other countries, most importantly Germany. Downgrading of Greek government debt to junk bonds created alarm in financial markets.

“On 2 May 2010, the Eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund agreed on a €110 billion loan for Greece, conditional on the implementation of harsh austerity measures. In October 2011, Eurozone leaders also agreed on a proposal to write off 50% of Greek debt owed to private creditors, increasing the EFSF to about €1 trillion and requiring European banks to achieve 9% capitalization to reduce the risk of contagion to other countries. These austerity measures have proved extremely unpopular with the Greek public, precipitating demonstrations and civil unrest.”


It was the collapse of the international financial and banking industries from the USA sub-prime crisis which rapidly became an international financial crisis, that mushroomed the Greek situation into a crisis. Greece had no choice but to reveal a truer picture of its deficit financing to the world’s creditors to seek more credit:

“Greece became the epicenter of Europe’s debt crisis after Wall Street imploded in 2008. With global financial markets still reeling, Greece announced in October 2009 that it had been understating its deficit figures for years, raising alarms about the soundness of Greek finances. Suddenly, Greece was shut out from borrowing in the financial markets. By the spring of 2010, it was veering toward bankruptcy, which threatened to set off a new financial crisis.”

“Greece’s debt crisis explained” – International Business; New York Times updated July 27, 2015

Up to around 2011, the loan monies in Greece continued to drive an inflation.
But then a sharp deflation began, as the Troika turned the screw on Greece. The Troika insisted on marked cuts in the living standards of the Greek people the working lass and peasantry. Not the standard of the ruling class of course who has moved its savings out of reach of the Greek state or the Troika. The Troika’s conditions are noted here:

“The so-called troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission — issued the first of two international bailouts for Greece, which would eventually total more than 240 billion euros, or about $264 billion at today’s exchange rates. The bailouts came with conditions. Lenders imposed harsh austerity terms, requiring deep budget cuts and steep tax increases. They also required Greece to overhaul its economy by streamlining the government, ending tax evasion and making Greece an easier place to do business.”

“Greece’s debt crisis explained” – International Business; New York Times updated July 27, 2015

Of course the Greek capitalists complied, and drove down and depressed the wage rates of the Greek people:

“It’s true that the crushing of the living standards and wage earnings of Greek households is making Greek industry more ‘competitive’ – labour costs per unit of (falling) production have dropped 30% since 2010 (See Graph 8 below).


((Roberts M; ‘Greece Cannot Escape”; 2nd Nov 2014:

Again – the burden of ‘austerity’ – was laid only on the working class of Greece:

“When Greece did cut some of its spending, the EU and ECB asked for a reduction in wages rather than a cut in spending. So – for example – while the military budget remains intact, soldiers have seen their wages fall by 40 per cent. Their experience is replicated across other public sector fields – notably in nurses and doctors”. Buchanan, Rose T; “Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess”; The Independent 4 July 2015;

An external – German – research agency found that indeed, it was the poor that had suffered disproportionate cuts as compared to the rich:

“The poorest households in the debt-ridden country lost nearly 86% of their income, while the richest lost only 17-20%.  The tax burden on the poor increased by 337% while the burden on upper-income classes increased by only 9% This is the result of a study that has analyzed 260.000 tax and income data from the years 2008 – 2012.
– The nominal gross income of Greek households decreased by almost a quarter in only four years.
– The wages cuts caused nearly half of the decline.
– The net income fell further by almost 9 percent, because the tax burden was significantly increased
–  While all social classes suffered income losses due to cuts, tax increases and the economic crisis, particularly strongly affected were households of low- and middle-income. This was due to sharp increase in unemployment and tax increases, that were partially regressive.
– The total number of employees in the private sector suffered significantly greater loss of income, and they were more likely to be unemployed than those employed in the public sector.
-From 2009 to 2013 wages and salaries in the private sector declined in several stages at around 19 percent. Among other things, because the minimum wage was lowered and collective bargaining structures were weakened. Employees in the public sector lost around a quarter of their income.

Unemployment & Early Retirement
Unemployment surged from 7.3% in the Q2 2008 to 26.6% in the Q2 2014. among youth aged 15-24, unemployment had an average of 44%.
Early retirement in the Private Sector increased by 14%.
Early retirement in the Public Sector* increased by 48%
The researchers see here a clear link to the austerity policy, that’s is the Greek government managed to fulfill the Troika requirements for smaller public sector. However, this trend caused a burden to the social security funds.
* Much to KTG’s knowledge public servants with 25 years in the public administration rushed to early retirement in 2010 out of fear of further cuts in their wages and consequently to their pension rights.

Taxes were greatly increased, but they had a regressive effect.
Since beginning of the austerity, direct taxes increased by nearly 53%, while indirect taxes increased by 22 percent.
The taxation policy has indeed contributed significantly to the consolidation of the public budget, but by doing so the social imbalance was magnified.

Little has been done against tax avoidance and tax evasion, however, the tax base was actually extended “downwards” with the effect that households with low-income and assets were strongly burdened.
Particularly poorer households paid disproportionately more in taxes and the tax burden to lower-income rose by 337%. In comparison, the tax burden to upper-income households rose by only 9%.
In absolute euro amounts, the annual tax burden of many poorer households increased “only” by a few hundred euros. However, with regards to the rapidly declining of incomes and rampant unemployment, this social class was over-burdened with taxes.

The Poor suffered more
On average, the annual income of Greek households before taxes fell from €23,100 euros in 2008 to just below €17,900 euros in 2012. This represents a loss of nearly 23 percent.
The losses were significantly different to each income class with the poorest households to have suffered the biggest losses.
Almost one in three Greek household had to make it through 2012 with an annual income below €7,000”.
(Research of the “German Institute for Macroeconomic Research (IMK) affiliated with the Hans Böckler Foundation”; given blog ‘Keep Talking Greece’; by 20 March 2015; at

Both the Greek ruling class and the Troika saw that this squeeze on the poor and working class, was creating such a social upheaval, as to be potentially pre-revolutionary. Yet they were caught, since the alternatives were dismal for the international capitalist. Even the IMF’s own rules were flouted. In 2010 the situation was as follows in Michael Roberts telling:

“The irony is that while austerity in Greece continues to be applied mercilessly, the IMF recently issued a report that concluded that the Troika’s approach was mistaken in imposing severe fiscal retrenchment back in May 2010 when Greece could no longer finance its spending through borrowing in bond markets (

Back then, the Troika had three options. First, it could have provided a massive fiscal transfer to the Greek government to tide it over without demanding massive cuts in public spending that eventually led to a fall in Greek real GDP of nearly 20%, unemployment of over 25% and government debt to GDP of 170%, with economic depression likely to continue out to the end of the decade.  Or it could have allowed the Greek government to ‘default’ on its debts to the banks, pension funds and hedge funds and negotiate an ‘orderly haircut’ on those debts.  But the Troika did neither and opted instead for a third way.  It insisted that in return for bailout funds the Greek government meet its obligations in full to all its creditors by switching all its available revenues to paying its debts at the expense of jobs, health, education and other public services.

The Troika insisted on this because it reckoned 1) that austerity would be shortlived and economic growth would quickly return and 2) if the banks and others took a huge hit on their balance sheets from a Greek default it would put European banks in danger of going bust (Greek banks first).  There could be ‘contagion’ if other distressed Eurozone governments also opted not to pay their debts, using Greece as the precedent.  Of course, economic growth has not returned and despite huge efforts on the part of Greek governments to meet fiscal targets through unprecedented austerity, government debt has increased rather than fallen and the economy has nosedived.

Eventually, the Troika had to agree that the private sector took a ‘haircut’ after all, massaged as it was with cash sweeteners and new bonds with high yields.  Now the IMF in its report admits that austerity was too severe and debt ‘restructuring’ should have happened from the beginning.  The IMF, now in its semi-Keynesian mode, tries to put the blame for the failure to do this on the EU leaders and the ECB, which has not made the latter too happy, especially as the current IMF chief, Lagarde was strongly in favour of the austerity plan when she was French finance minister in 2010.

“If Greeks had defaulted back in 2010, that could have led to other defaults and Europe’s banks were in no state to absorb such losses.  As a recent study shows, German banks were heavily overleveraged back in 2010 and they are not much better even now.  There was no way the German government was going to put German banks in jeopardy and allow the ‘profligate’ Greeks to get a huge handout of German taxpayers money to boot.  No, the Greeks had to pay their debts, just as the Germans had to pay their reparations to the French after 1918, even if it meant Germany was plunged into permanent depression.  Ironically, the Germans did not and have not paid promised billions in reparations to the Greeks after 1945 – something the Greeks are pursuing in negotiations!”

(Michael Roberts Blog: “Greece, the IMF and debt default; 16th June 2013;“

As noted before, this fueling of the debt by new loans, was against even the principles of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and senior strategists in the IMF warned that the polices of the IMF in regards to Greece were seriously in error, from the year 2010.

As stated above, one underlying reason on insisting that the Greek Government paid its debt fully, was simply the usurer’s wish to ensure that debts owed by Greece to both France and Germany would be honoured. German and French banks had become vulnerable by over-leveraging themselves. (i.e they had loaned so much money that their actual capital holdings were unable to support them if there was a “run” on their deposits). The Eurozone banks had become very vulnerable:

“The Table below shows the degree of ‘domestic leverage’ of the systemically important banks in major Eurozone countries .. in most countries the domestic banking system would not survive a Greek-style ‘haircut’ on public debt. (In March 2012, holders of Greek bonds had to accept a nominal haircut of over 50%, and on a mark-to-market basis the haircut was over 80%. It is apparent that no bank that has a sovereign exposure worth over 100% of its capital would survive such a loss).

Table 4: Domestic sovereign debt leverage (sovereign exposure/capital)

Greece Table

Source: CEPS database. (From Roberts 16 June 2013; “Greece, the IMF and debt default ibid) Michael Roberts Blog: “Greece, the IMF and debt default; 16th June 2013;

Amazingly, the IMF policy remained unchanged – new loans were issued to Greece – at least up till May 2015:

“Greece’s onerous obligations to the IMF, the European Central Bank and European governments can be traced back to April 2010, when they made a fateful mistake. Instead of allowing Greece to default on its insurmountable debts to private creditors, they chose to lend it the money to pay in full.
At the time, many called for immediately restructuring privately held debt, thus imposing losses on the banks and investors who had lent money to Greece. Among them were several members of the IMF’s board and Karl Otto Pohl, a former president of the Bundesbank and a key architect of the euro. The IMF and European authorities responded that restructuring would cause global financial mayhem. As Pohl candidly noted, that was merely a cover for bailing out German and French banks, which had been among the largest enablers of Greek profligacy.

Ultimately, the authorities’ approach merely replaced one problem with another: IMF and official European loans were used to repay private creditors. Thus, despite a belated restructuring in 2012, Greece’s obligations remain unbearable — only now they are owed almost entirely to official creditors.

Five years after the crisis started, government debt has jumped from 130 percent of gross domestic product to almost 180 percent. Meanwhile, a deep economic slump and deflation have severely impaired the government’s ability to repay.
Almost everyone now agrees that pushing Greece to pay its private creditors was a bad idea. The required fiscal austerity was simply too great, causing the economy to collapse. The IMF acknowledged the error in a 2013 report on Greece. In a recent staff paper, the fund said that when a crisis threatens to spread, it should seek a collective global solution rather than forcing the distressed economy to bear the entire burden. The IMF’s chief economist, Olivier Blanchard, has warned that more austerity will crush growth.

Oddly, the IMF’s proposed way forward for Greece remains unchanged: Borrow more money (this time from the European authorities) to repay one group of creditors (the IMF) and stay focused on austerity. The fund’s latest projections assume that the government’s budget surplus (other than interest payments) will reach 4.5 percent of GDP, a level of belt-tightening that few governments have ever sustained for any significant period of time.

Following Germany’s lead, IMF officials have placed their faith in so-called structural reforms — changes in labor and other markets that are supposed to improve the Greek economy’s longer-term growth potential. They should know better. The fund’s latest World Economic Outlook throws cold water on the notion that such reforms will address the Greek debt problem in a reliable and timely manner. The most valuable measures encourage research and development and help spur high-technology sectors. All this is to the good, but such gains are irrelevant for the next five years. The priority must be to prevent Greece from sinking deeper into a debt-deflation spiral. Unfortunately, some reforms will actually accelerate the spiral by weakening demand.

On April 9, Greece repaid 450 million euros ($480 million) to the IMF, and must pay another 2 billion in May and June. The IMF’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, has made clear that delays in repayments will not be tolerated.

“I would, certainly for myself, not support it,” she told Bloomberg Television.”

Ashoka Mody; Bloomberg 81 April 21 2015; The IMF’s Big Greek Mistake;

Recall – Lagarde was once the Minister of Finance for France:

Graph number 5 (see above) displays that it is not only Greece in
hock” to Germany, but there are several leading Eurozone states in debt to Germany. In especial note the deficits of France and of Italy.

This is the second reason – at least for German imperialism – on insisting that the Greek Government paid its debt fully.
If the Greeks are allowed to default, what happens to the other loans that are outstanding? It has long been recognised that Germany has been running a huge trade surplus, and it has been under pressure to alleviate this for some time:

“For years, Germany has been running a large current account surplus, meaning that it sells a lot more than it buys. The gap has only grown since the start of the crisis, reaching a new record of 215.3 billion euros ($244 billion) in 2014. Such insufficient German demand weakens world growth, which is why the U.S. Treasury and the International Monetary Fund have long prodded the country to buy more. Even the European Commission has concluded that Germany’s current-account imbalance is “excessive.”

(Ashoka Mody, Bloomberg188 July 17, 2015, ‘Germany, Not Greece, Should Exit the Euro’)

Any lifting of the restrictions upon Greece will lead to repercussions as to what happens to the debts of these other leading countries. It is no doubt, for this reason, that both Italy and France have been trying to ease pressures from Germany, arguing that there must be a debt restructuring.

This fits with the later 2015 U-Turn of Cristine Lagarde and the IMF (Discussed in section 9 below) – who are now at the last moment – urging the German government to reduce the obligations of the Greek government of Tsipras. We believe also, that this U-Turn supports the USA wish to attack the German government’s current rising economic strength.

Moreover, the USA government itself – suffers from an astronomical debt.

7. The Marxist View of ‘National Debt’ under capitalism

What do Marxists and other informed economists make of the notion of a national Debt? Falling into debt of a country – or large institutions – has been a historical feature of the growth of capital. Karl Marx pointed this out in ‘Capital’, saying that the “only part of the so-called national wealth that actually enters the possession of modern people is their national debt.” In full:

“The system of public credit, i.e., of national debts, whose origin we discover in Genoa and Venice as early as the Middle Ages, took possession of Europe generally during the manufacturing period. The colonial system with its maritime trade and commercial wars served as a forcing-house for it. … National debts, i.e., the alienation of the state – whether despotic, constitutional or republican – marked with its stamp the capitalistic era. The only part of the so-called national wealth that actually enters into the collective possessions of modern peoples is their national debt. Hence, as a necessary consequence, the modern doctrine that a nation becomes the richer the more deeply it is in debt. Public credit becomes the credo of capital. And with the rise of national debt-making, want of faith in the national debt takes the place of the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which may not be forgiven.

The public debt becomes one of the most powerful levers of primitive accumulation. As with the stroke of an enchanter’s wand, it endows barren money with the power of breeding and thus turns it into capital, without the necessity of its exposing itself to the troubles and risks inseparable from its employment in industry or even in usury. The state creditors actually give nothing away, for the sum lent is transformed into public bonds, easily negotiable, which go on functioning in their hands just as so much hard cash would. But further, apart from the class of lazy annuitants thus created, and from the improvised wealth of the financiers, middlemen between the government and the nation – as also apart from the tax-farmers, merchants, private manufacturers, to whom a good part of every national loan renders the service of a capital fallen from heaven – the national debt has given rise to joint-stock companies, to dealings in negotiable effects of all kinds, and to agiotage, in a word to stock-exchange gambling and the modern bankocracy.

At their birth the great banks, decorated with national titles, were only associations of private speculators, who placed themselves by the side of governments, and, thanks to the privileges they received, were in a position to advance money to the State. Hence the accumulation of the national debt has no more infallible measure than the successive rise in the stock of these banks, whose full development dates from the founding of the Bank of England in 1694. The Bank of England began with lending its money to the Government at 8%; at the same time it was empowered by Parliament to coin money out of the same capital, by lending it again to the public in the form of banknotes. It was allowed to use these notes for discounting bills, making advances on commodities, and for buying the precious metals. It was not long ere this credit-money, made by the bank itself, became. The coin in which the Bank of England made its loans to the State, and paid, on account of the State, the interest on the public debt. It was not enough that the bank gave with one hand and took back more with the other; it remained, even whilst receiving, the eternal creditor of the nation down to the last shilling advanced. Gradually it became inevitably the receptacle of the metallic hoard of the country, and the centre of gravity of all commercial credit. What effect was produced on their contemporaries by the sudden uprising of this brood of bankocrats, financiers, rentiers, brokers, stock-jobbers, &c., is proved by the writings of that time, e.g., by Bolingbroke’s”

(Marx, Karl: Capital Volume One Chapter Thirty-One: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist; at:

Not only is “National Debt” crucial for the capitalist, but it was coincident with the ‘credit system’, and this in turn was associated with an international trade of capital (i.e. money) and systems of “modern taxation”:

“With the national debt arose an international credit system, which often conceals one of the sources of primitive accumulation in this or that people. Thus the villainies of the Venetian thieving system formed one of the secret bases of the capital-wealth of Holland to whom Venice in her decadence lent large sums of money. So also was it with Holland and England. By the beginning of the 18th century the Dutch manufactures were far outstripped. Holland had ceased to be the nation preponderant in commerce and industry. One of its main lines of business, therefore, from 1701-1776, is the lending out of enormous amounts of capital, especially to its great rival England. The same thing is going on today between England and the United States. A great deal of capital, which appears today in the United States without any certificate of birth, was yesterday, in England, the capitalised blood of children.”

(Marx, Karl: Capital Volume One Chapter Thirty-One: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist; at:

Moreover, Marx points out that governments want loans for “extraordinary expenses”. This is because they do not want to tax the people too heavily lest it anger them. But eventually these loans will need an increase in taxes to pay the loan off. Then a vicious circle begins, where even more loans are needed to off-set the higher taxation burden:

“As the national debt finds its support in the public revenue, which must cover the yearly payments for interest, &c., the modern system of taxation was the necessary complement of the system of national loans. The loans enable the government to meet extraordinary expenses, without the tax-payers feeling it immediately, but they necessitate, as a consequence, increased taxes. On the other hand, the raising of taxation caused by the accumulation of debts contracted one after another, compels the government always to have recourse to new loans for new extraordinary expenses. Modern fiscality, whose pivot is formed by taxes on the most necessary means of subsistence (thereby increasing their price), thus contains within itself the germ of automatic progression. Overtaxation is not an incident, but rather a principle. In Holland, therefore, where this system was first inaugurated, the great patriot, DeWitt, has in his “Maxims” extolled it as the best system for making the wage labourer submissive, frugal, industrious, and overburdened with labour. The destructive influence that it exercises on the condition of the wage labourer concerns us less however, here, than the forcible expropriation, resulting from it, of peasants, artisans, and in a word, all elements of the lower middle class. On this there are not two opinions, even among the bourgeois economists. Its expropriating efficacy is still further heightened by the system of protection, which forms one of its integral parts.

(Marx, Karl: Capital Volume One Chapter Thirty-One: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist; at:

What were these “extraordinary expenditures” the state wished to fund? Even bourgeois economists recognise that wars were one key such expenditures:

“The Bank of England was created… explicitly,, to finance wars, in its case the Nine Years War with France which started in 1688……The Bank of France .. having been started with that name in 1800 specifically to satisfy Napoleon’s wartime financial needs”. (Dean and Pringle Ibid; ‘Central banks”; pp38; p. 42).

Modern bourgeois economists have of course long supported the principle of national debts. Maynard Keynes recognised the utility of deficit financing for the capitalist control of the state, as he stated:

“’Loan expenditure.. may .. enrich the community on balance”; ref 31: (Cited Van Der Pijl, K. ‘The making of an Atlantic ruling class”; p.17; London 2012).

While we cannot dwell further on the subject in this article, the amount of the USA current debt is astonishingly large. So there is nothing reprehensible about the Greek Debt per se. What is at issue is an international lack of confidence that the Greek state would be able to pay it back. There is no underlying manufacturing or trading base to support the debt, and will not be. Unless – a complete break with the past – is offered. However thus far, a meaningful solution has never been on offer by the Greek or international merchants of capital, to the Greek working people.

8. The Debt Crisis leads to an increasing struggle of the growing Greek working class and gives rise to the United Front of Syriza – the political parties of the left

By the time of the current era in 2000-2015, the Greek social and class structure had changed dramatically. Despite the absence of a major manufacturing sector, unemployment was rising, and the urban-rural divide was widening – even before the austerity moves of the Troika:

“Greece is still low on competitiveness and this undermines self-sustaining growth, with low employment rates, low R&D, high levels of poverty, especially in rural and remote areas. The Greek economy grew by 0.7 per cent in the 1980s, compared with 2.4 per cent in other EU states. Demographically, the number of over 65-year-olds, set to increase by 30 per cent between 2010 and 2050, with fewer people in employment, will create a massive dependency on social security and health care. Greece has the largest agricultural population in the EU, with a low capacity to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). The collapse of the Soviet Union and opening of markets in the Balkans means that many investors have relocated their activities in neighbouring countries.

Since 2004 there has been a drop in most manufacturing output (textiles, leather goods, paper, office equipment, furniture), steadily constant production of food, beverages, oil, with the only growth in tobacco, chemicals and plastic goods. Therefore, long-term stagnation in manufacturing has led the state to adopt ‘rescue’ interventions or public loans. Shipping and tourism contributes 17 per cent to gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 18 per cent of the working population. The uneven rural/urban divide is particularly acute as some areas, notably the islands and the farming communities, benefited more from Euro-funds for tourism or agridevelopment than others. Athens, in particular has had massive infrastructure developed.”

(Liddle, Joyce. “Regeneration and Economic Development in Greece:
De-industrialisation and Uneven Development “p.340; Local Government Studies; Vol. 35, No. 3, 335–354, June 2009)

Nonetheless, the weight of the working class had risen between 1991 and 2011, as had a class polarisation:

“Based on the Greek Statistic Service data for the fourth trimester of 2011 in comparison to those of 1991 consists in
1. an increase of the bourgeois class (3.4% from 1.4%) and of the rich rural strata (0.6% from 0.3%),
2. a huge decline of the traditional petit-bourgeois class (15.2% from 13.2%), and of the middle rural strata (2.2% from 3%),
3. a small increase of the new petit-bourgeois class (15.2% from 13.2%), due to the increasing demand of their abilities for the achievement of capital profitability, in parallel to an effort of their submission to the most direct capital exploitation and domination,
4. An important increase of the working class (62.2% from 47.5%), and
an important decrease of the poor rural strata (6% from 47.5%).
*In any case, what is clear is the tendency of intensification of class polarisation, which leads to the adoption of a social structure akin to that of other European countries (small number of farmers and of the traditional petit-bourgeois class, stable presence of the new petit-bourgeois class as the executive organizer of the productive process, broader bourgeoisie and heterogeneous uneven but
numerous working class”.

(Eirini Gaitanou. An examination of class structure in Greece, its tendencies of transformation amid the crisis, and its impacts on the organisational forms and structures of the social movement. At:

Under these enormous burdens, the now sizeable working classes of Greece mounted serious struggles to resist “austerity.” The ruling classes struggled to implement their commitments to the EU and the IMF. Consequently a series of short lived coalition governments took power.

“Following the May 2012 legislative election where the New Democracy party became the largest party in the Hellenic Parliament, Samaras, leader of ND, was asked by Greek President Karolos Papoulias to try to form a government. However, after a day of hard negotiations with the other parties in Parliament, Samaras officially announced he was giving up the mandate to form a government. The task passed to Alexis Tsipras, leader of the SYRIZA (the second largest party) who was also unable to form a government. After PASOK also failed to negotiate a successful agreement to form a government, emergency talks with the President ended with a new election being called while Panagiotis Pikrammenos was appointed as Prime Minister in a caretaker government.
Voters once again took to the polls in the widely-watched June 2012 election. New Democracy came out on top in a stronger position with 129 seats, compared to 108 in the May election. On 20 June 2012, Samaras successfully formed a coalition with PASOK (now lead by former Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos) and DIMAR. The new government would have a majority of 58, with SYRIZA, Independent Greeks (ANEL), Golden Dawn (XA) and the Communist Party (KKE) comprising the opposition. PASOK and DIMAR chose to take a limited role in Samaras’ Cabinet, being represented by party officials and independent technocrats instead of MPs.”


We discuss these parties below. The coalition government led by Samaras, proved to be another short lived and contentious government, as it toed the line of Troika conditions. As such it was unable to disguise its nature from the increasingly militant and impoverished working class of Greece.

By the time of the January 2015 elections, the situation had become even more parlous for Greece’s working people:

“Greece saw official unemployment rising up to 27% – and youth unemployment up to 50% – suffered a cumulative contraction of almost 25%, saw a massive reduction in wages and pensions, and witnessed the passage of massive legislation oriented towards privatizations, labor market liberalization, and neoliberal university reform.”

(Panagiotis Sotiris;

A more credible “left” bulwark against the masses was necessary for the Greek ruling class. This coincided with a reformation of the Greek left. At this point we must discuss Syriza in more detail.

As seen, PASOK had fallen into rank opportunism and open betrayal of the working class. After ensuing scandals of corruption implicated the leader, Andreas Papandreou, its appeal to the workers and poor of Greece was falling fast:

“The socialist Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou and his key associates were under accusation of scandal, which involved party funding from illicit sources and revealed the extensive clientelistic linkages between business interests and politics which had been built up under PASOK’s eight-year rule.”

(Tsakatika, Myrto and Eleftheriou, Costas: “The Radical Left’s Turn towards Civil Society in Greece: One Strategy, Two Paths”; South European Society and Politics, 2013; p.3;

The space on the left had opened up again. Who was there to fill it?
We reprise the main outlines of events, focusing on analyses by Syriza, the revisionist KKE, and the pro-Hoxha Anasintaxi.

After the destruction of many of its cadre after the Battle of Athens in 1949, the KKE slowly reformed, after having adopted some mistaken sectarian paths during the Second World War. The KKE went through several splits, summarized below:

“There have been a series of splits throughout the party’s history, the earliest one being the Trotskyist Organisation of Internationalist Communists of Greece.
In 1956, after the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the USSR….
a faction created the Group of Marxist-Leninists of Greece (OMLE), which split from party in 1964, becoming the Organisation of Marxists-Leninists of Greece. In 1968, amidst the Greek military junta of 1967–1974 and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, a relatively big group split from KKE, forming KKE Interior, a Greek Nationalist Communist Party claiming to be directed from within Greece rather than from the Soviet Union.
In 1988 KKE and Greek Left (the former KKE Interior), along with other left parties and organisations, formed the Coalition of the Left and Progress.
Also in 1988, the vast majority of members and officials from Communist Youth of Greece (KNE), the KKE’s youth wing, split to form the New Left Current (NAR), drawing mainly youth in major cities, especially in Thessaloniki.
In the early 2000s, a small group of major party officials such as Mitsos Kostopoulos left the party and formed the Movement for the United in Action Left (KEDA), which in the 2007 legislative election participated in the Coalition of the Radical Left, which was to win the 2015 national elections with a plurality.”

( and also see Tsakatika, Myrto and Eleftheriou, Costas: “The Radical Left’s Turn towards Civil Society in Greece: One Strategy, Two Paths”; South European Society and Politics, 2013; p.3;

The Marxist Leninist party supporting Hoxha in Greece is ‘Αναρτήθηκε από’ or ‘Anasintaxi Organization’ (reorganization). They are also known as “The Movement for the Reorganization of the Communist Party of Greece 1918–55” – or KKE 1918-55. They characterize the KKE disintegration post-war as follows:

“The old revolutionary KKE, under the leadership of the then General Sceretary Nikos Zachariadis, was the only communist party from a capitalist not to have accepted Krushchevian revisionism. For this reason, it was eliminated by the brutal intervention of the soviet Krushchevian revisionists in 1955-1956 and replaced by the Greek Krushchevian revisionist party (“K”KE), a bourgeois, party of social-democratic type. More than 90% of the party members led by Nikos Zachariadis opposed and fiercely resisted Krushchevian revisionism and many tens of cadres were sent to exile in Siberia including Nikos Zachariadis himself who has murdered by the social-fascist clique of Brezhnev (CPSU) – Florakis (“K”KE) in August of 1973, in Sorgut, Siberia after of 17 years of exile. In 1968, “K”KE was split into two parties: the euro-communist part known as “K”KE (interior) and the Krushchevian-Brezhnevite part known as “K”KE. SYRIZA originates from the first part and, consequently, is a social-democratic and reformist party guided by a right opportunist general line and characterized by petty bourgeois class features”

Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi Organization ‘Some questions and answers about the current situation in Greece’; Article to be published in “Unity & Struggle” (Extended version of an interview given to the comrades of Iran); march 30; 2015; at

The revisionist KKE’s attitude to the European Union is characterised as follows:

“It is important to clarify that, despite its verbal attacks against EU and the Eurozone, “K”KE does not put forward (not even for the sake of demagogy) the question of Greece’s immediate exit neither from the EU nor the Eurozone. In relation to Euro, the leadership of “K”KE has stated: “A solution outside the euro and return to the drachma in the present circumstances would be catastrophic” (30/5/2011), i.e. a position that is similar to the one expressed by the president of the Union of Greek Industrialists (20/3/2012)…: “Europe or chaos” This is also evident in the party’s program that was approved by its last congress). Since some time now, “K”KE has expressed the view that “the term “national dependence” is not applicable in contemporary conditions” (1/2/2005). After the 19th Congress, it has openly adopted Trotskyite positions that mention “imperialist Greece”, “imperialist Second World War” etc and are evident in the “Program” approved in the last party Congress: “the capitalism in Greece is in the imperialist stage of development” (“K”KE Program, p. 12, Athens 2013). Concerning the character of the Second World War it is claimed that: “the problem was not only with KKE but the overall strategy of the international communist movement before and during the Second World War. In 1941, another negative point was added when the correct assessment of the war as imperialist – with respect to both sides of capitalist states – was replaced by the position that it was only anti-fascist” (“Rizospastis,” 21/12/2104)”

Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi OrganizationSome questions and answers about the current situation in Greece’; Article to be published in “Unity & Struggle” (Extended version of an interview given to the comrades of Iran); march 30; 2015; at

As PASOK had been fully exposed, a general disillusion enabled the formation of Synaspismo (Coalition of the Left and Progress) in 1991:

“Synaspismos emerged initially as an electoral coalition at the late 1980s, with the pro-Soviet Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Greek Left, one of the successors of the eurocommunist KKE Interior, as its largest constituents. The Party of Democratic Socialism, a splinter from the Union of the Democratic Centre which occupied a similar position to PASOK, was the largest non-Communist member party.”


The many parties of the left are displayed in the diagram below, which helps to show the umbrella nature of the Syriza United front. Beneath the figure itself (at the site “Lenin’s Tomb”) is a potted history of these factions. (Seymour, R. ‘Map of the Greek Radical Left’ February 9, 2015; However the figure does not explain include the currents of the Marxist-Leninist left. The OMLE was a pro-Maoist party. We further discuss at points, the positions of Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi Organization, the pro-Hoxha Marxist-Leninists. Here we continue to trace the currents of Syriza.

The revisionist KKE joined Synaspismo, which contested three national elections (June 1989, November 1989, 1990). For a period they joined in Government alliances with mainstream centre-right New Democracy, ND under the premiership of Tzannis Tzannetakis. This collaboration was not viewed kindly by the increasingly politicised Greek working class and petit-bourgeois:

“The government’s official purpose was to send the former prime minister to trial and impose a clean-up of the corrupt clientelistic politics of the time… (But) leftist voters did not appreciate the decision of the left parties’ leaderships to engage in government cooperation with the centre-right; moreover, the stated aim of the Tzannetakis government was not achieved: after a long judicial process there was ultimately very little ‘cleaning up’.. the KKE pulled out of the coalition and lost 40 per cent of its cadres after a major party split in the party’s 13th Congress (February 1991). The former coalition was re-established as a unified party… In the first part of the 1990s, the Greek left as a whole was thus delegitimised in the eyes of its traditional electorate, bruised by participation in government with the centre-right and experienced internal strife and extensive demobilisation of party members, while the collapse of the Soviet Union (USSR) added an identity crisis to its woes”. (Tsakatika, and Eleftheriou, Ibid; 2013).


The United Front of Synapsimos – or Syn as it is known – tried to appeal to a broad front, and one that explicitly crossed class lines:

“SYN.. in 2001… established a political and electoral alliance with a host of smaller parties, groups and networks of the extra-parliamentary left in the context of the Synaspismo Pizospastikh Aristra (Coalition of the Radical Left [SYRIZA])… SYN was and remained (until 2012) the largest party in the SYRIZA coalition, representing at least 80 per cent of its cadres, activists and voters. SYRIZA was one of the core choices of the party’s new leadership after 2000.. ”
(Tsakatika, and Eleftheriou, Ibid; 2013).

“SYN.. defined itself as a pluralist left party of democratic socialism, neither orthodox communist nor social democratic, supporting a mixed economy and placing a fresh emphasis on ‘new issues’, particularly feminism, democratic rights and the environment. SYN’s original core consisted of cadres whose political origins lay in the party of the Ellhnikh Aristra ́ (Greek Left [EAR]) founded in 1987 (in turn established after the KKE-es leadership’s decision to dissolve the party and contribute to the foundation of a non-communist left party) and a large group of dissidents who broke ranks with the KKE in 1991. It also incorporated a number of individuals and small groups coming from left social democracy, ecologism and the extra-parliamentary left, as well as independents.

The party’s founding document appealed to ‘the men and women of work and culture, the young and the excluded’. This was explicitly not a class appeal, since SYN effectively presented itself as a catch-all party throughout the 1990s, one that aimed to be present in ‘every nook and cranny of Greek society’. There was also an explicit trans-class appeal to groups affected by gender inequality and environmental degradation. In practice, most of its vote share, membership and cadres have mainly been from among the ranks of highly educated employees in the public sector, professionals and small employers. However, as a result of changes in internal factional dynamics, with the radical, protest-oriented

moderate (and sympathetic to government cooperation with PASOK) Anan vtikh ryga (Renewal Wing) in the party leadership after 2000, SYN shifted to a broadly defined class appeal aimed at targeting, primarily, younger cohorts and, secondarily, precariously employed workers in the services sector, social categories that were politically under-represented”
(Tsakatika, and Eleftheriou, Ibid; 2013).

The later creation of Syriza, was also a United Front. The word commonly means “coalition of the radical left”; or originally “coming from the roots” (Wikipedia):

“The Coalition of the Radical Left (Greek: Synaspismós Rizospastikís Aristerás), mostly known by its acronym, Syriza which signifies a Greek adjective meaning “from the roots”, is a left-wing political party in Greece, originally founded in 2004 as a coalition of left-wing and radical left parties. It is the largest party in the Hellenic Parliament…
The coalition originally comprised a broad array of groups (thirteen in total) and independent politicians, including social democrats, democratic socialists, left-wing patriots, feminists and green leftist groups, as well as Maoist, Trotskyist, Eurocommunist but also Eurosceptic components. Additionally, despite its secular ideology, many members are Christians who, like their atheistic fellow members, are opposed to the privileges of the state-sponsored Orthodox Church of Greece. From 2013 the coalition became a unitary party, although it retained its name with the addition of “United Social Front.”

Syriza between 2004-8 was led by Alekos Alavanos. They created a vigorous youth movement in the driving force of the Ellhniko ́ Koinvniko ́ Foroym (Greek Social Forum [EKF]) which later organised the 4th European Social Forum (ESF) that took place in Athens in 2006. The Syriza United Front did undergo some splinters:

“In March 2009, some 10 small groups and parties formed another coalition, Antarsya (literally, the Anti-Capitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow). Composed primarily of university student activists in various communist organizations of orthodox Marxist, Trotskyist and Maoist backgrounds, as well of members of the relatively new rank-and-file unions outside the established bureaucracies of the official union structure of the country, it proved effective for activism in a broad range of mobilizations, but it never managed to achieve anything more than 1.8 per cent in the regional or general elections.

(Spourdalakis, Michalis; “Left strategy in the Greek cauldron: explaining syriza’s success. Socialist Register 2013; p. 105)

By 2010, Alex Tspiras was leading the Syriza party, after a section (The Renewal Wing’) split to form DIMAR (‘Renewal Wing’):

“The exit of the ‘Renewal Wing’ faction from SYN (which evolved into DIMAR) in the summer of 2010 curtailed political disagreement and factional infighting within SYN and resulted in the effective dominance of Alexis Tsipras’s leadership in both SYN and SYRIZA.”
(Tsakatika, and Eleftheriou, Ibid; 2013).

“The “social democratic” wing of Synaspismos definitely lost control of the party in 2006 when Alekos Alavanos was elected its president. This right wing, led by Fotis Kouvelis, almost exclusively originating in the Eurocommunist right group coming from EAR, ultimately left Synaspismos and set up another party called Democratic Left (Dimar): a formation that claims to be a sort of halfway house between Pasok and the radical left.”

(Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen: Greece: Phase One

But the revisionist KKE left Syn early on, and adopted a sectarian approach. Later on the KKE did not join the Greek Social Forum (EKF). Much of the KKE’s broad front work was instead performed through a Trade Union organisation – “Panrgatiko Agvnistiko Mtvpo (All Workers’ Militant Front, PAME) formed in the late 1990s. Insisting on this tactic, the KKE lost ground amongst much of the youth. For example those joining the ‘Indignants’ movement – who rejected all parties.

“Also indicative of the qualitative new dimension of the Greek people’s resistance were the now famous mobilizations of the ‘aganaktismeni’, i.e. the ‘frustrated or indignant in the squares’. These movements, which appeared in almost every major city nationwide, used new means of political mobilization (including the internet) and developed a political language which was clearly hostile to the previously existing patronizing practices of the party system. In fact this hostility was frequently displayed by spontaneous verbal and even physical attacks on politicians of the governmental parties, which at times extended to representatives of the established trade unions and the KKE.”

(Spourdalakis, Michalis;“Left strategy in the Greek cauldron: explaining syriza’s success. Socialist Register 2013; p. 108)

Stathis Kouvelakis, is a member of the central committee of Syriza and a leading member of its Left Platform. Kouvelakis pointed to the post-1968 divisions of the Greek left as “two poles.” Supposedly bridged by Syriza: the first bridge to factions of the KKE:

“Since 1968, the radical Left had been divided into two poles. The first was the Greek Communist Party (KKE), which (after splits)… (had) a rightist wing (that) constituted the Greek Left (EAR) and joined Synaspismos from the outset, and the leftist one reforming as the AKOA. The KKE that remained after these two splits was peculiarly traditionalist… It managed to win a relatively significant activist base among working-class and popular layers, as well as among the youth, particularly in the universities.” (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen: Greece: Phase One

Kouvelakis describes Synaspsimos, as a second ‘pole’, seeding the later Syriza:

“The other pole, Synaspismos, opened out in 2004 with the creation of Syriza, which itself came from the joining together of the two previous splits from the KKE. Synaspismos has changed considerably over time. At the beginning of the 1990s, it was the kind of party that could vote for the Maastricht Treaty, and it was mainly of a moderate left coloration.” (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

Actually the Marxist-Leninist pro-Hoxha party – (Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi Organization) – is more emphatic. It places Syriza as directly deriving from the revisionist KKE, and as having taken over the KKE “social-democratic and reformist” character. Although Syriza is “socially” anti-fascist, it has “contradictions” – that impede it:

“In 1968, “K”KE was split into two parties: the euro-communist part known as “K”KE (interior) and the Krushchevian-Brezhnevite part known as “K”KE. Syriza originates from the first part and, consequently, is a social-democratic and reformist party guided by a right opportunist general line and characterized by petty bourgeois class features.

Syriza has pledged to implement a kind of neo-Keynesian economic program with the aim, at best, of relieving the burden of the consequences coming from the economic crisis of over-production and extreme neo-liberal economic policy without, however, touching the capitalist system and the imperialist dependence of Greece. Nevertheless, the implementation of this program has met negative reactions from the representatives of the imperialist organizations Commission – ECB – IMF that continue to interfere in the internal affairs of the country provocatively and without any pretext. This attitude amounts to the annulment of the recent (editor: January 2105) elections in our country.

In the sphere of social questions, Syriza is an anti-fascist party suffering from inconsistencies and contradictions as it is evident from the fact that it formed an alliance with the bourgeois nationalist party of ANEL and the nomination of Prokopis Pavlopoulos for President of the Republic, a right-wing politician from Nea Demokratia who was responsible, as Minister of Public Order in the Karamanlis government, for the bloody police violence unleashed on the country’s school youth after the murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos in December of 2008.”

(Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi OrganizationSome questions and answers about the current situation in Greece’; Article to be published in “Unity & Struggle” (Extended version of an interview given to the comrades of Iran); march 30; 2015. At

Syriza was always an electoral alliance:

“Syriza was set up by several different organizations in 2004, as an electoral alliance. Its biggest component was Alexis Tsipras’s party Synaspismos — initially the Coalition of the Left and Progress, and eventually renamed the Coalition of the Left and of the Movements …. It emerged from a series of splits in the Communist movement. Some (smaller parties also – Editor) came out of the old Greek far left. In particular, the Communist Organization of Greece (KOE), one of the country’s main Maoist groups. This organization had three members of parliament (MPs) elected in May 2012. That’s also true of the Internationalist Workers’ Left (DEA), which is from a Trotskyist tradition, as well as other groups mostly of a Communist background. For example, the Renewing Communist Ecological Left (AKOA), which came out of the old Communist Party (Interior).” (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

The United Front of Syriza, had almost electoral immediate success:

“It managed to get into parliament, overcoming the 3 percent minimum threshold.” (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

Syriza went on to replace PASOK as increasingly, Syriza candidates won in the ballot boxes. By this stage a number of other new parties had emerged, including a fascist party – Golden Dawn:

“After three years of political instability, the system collapsed in the dual elections of May and June 2012. New Democracy’s strength was halved and PASOK’s vote share diminished by 75 per cent. Three new political actors emerged, each winning around seven per cent of the vote, namely the party of the Dhmokratikh Aristra (Democratic Left, DIMAR), a recent split from SYN, Anya rthtoi Ellhn(Independent Greeks), a recent split from ND, and the extreme-right Xrysh Aygh (Golden Dawn). (Tsakatika, and Eleftheriou, Ibid; 2013).

A short lived coalition government in 2012 was formed by ND, PASOK and DIMAR in June 2012

What does Syriza represent? According to its own leaders it is an “anti-capitalist coalition” – as “class-struggle parties – but both emphasising “electoral alliances”:

“Syriza is an anti-capitalist coalition that addresses the question of power by emphasizing the dialectic of electoral alliances and success at the ballot box with struggle and mobilizations from below. That is, Syriza and Synaspismos see themselves as class-struggle parties, as formations that represent specific class interests.” (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

In another description, it is a “hybrid party”:

“That is, it is a political front, and even within Syriza there is a practical approach allowing the coexistence of different political cultures. I would say that Syriza is a hybrid party, a synthesis party, with one foot in the tradition of the Greek Communist movement and its other foot in the novel forms of radicalism that have emerged in this new period.” (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

In 2012 there were about 16,000 members in Synaspismos, and the Maoist KOE had about 1-1500 members. But in the ensuring period of a year, Syriza grew rapidly further – to 35,000–36,000. By May 2012, it became the second party in Greece with 16.7 percent of the vote, beating Pasok. It relied largely on a trade union base, and pulled its voters away from the KKE. There were 3 reasons why strategists feel they did so well in the 2012 elections:

“First, The violence of the social and economic crisis in Greece and the way it developed from 2010 onward, with the austere-ian purge .. inflicted under the infamous memorandums of understanding (the agreements the Greek government signed with the troika in order to secure the country’s ability to pay off its debts). The second factor resides in the fact that Greece — and now also Spain — are the only countries where this social and economic crisis has transformed into a political crisis. .. The third factor is popular mobilization.… The real breakthrough came when Tsipras focused his discourse on the theme of constituting an “anti-austerity government of the Left” now, which he presented as an alliance proposal reaching out to the KKE, the far left, the parliamentary left, and the small dissident elements of Pasok. “ (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

Within the United Front of Syriza itself, there are two main wings (See Diagram above): The Left Platform and the majority. The Left Platform is also a United Front – of the “Left Current” mainly influenced by the KKE and a Trotskyist component:

“The Left Platform has two components, the Left Current, which is a kind of traditional communist current — essentially constituted by trade unionists and controlling most of the trade union sector of Syriza. These people in their vast majority come from the KKE, so they are those who broke with the KKE in the last split of the party in 1991. And then there is the Trotskyist component (DEA and KOKKOINO, recently fused).” (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

In turn, this Left wing has formed a sub-group – the “Platform of the 53”:

“The left of the majority has coalesced around the “Platform of the Fifty-Three,” signed by fifty-three members of the central committee and some MPs in June 2014, immediately after the European elections. They strongly criticized Tsipras’s attempts to attract establishment politicians, and for leading a campaign that didn’t give a big enough role to social mobilizations and movements”. (Stathis Kouvelakis interview with Sebastien Budgen; Ibid).

From quite early on, Tsipras had been criticised from his Left – on charges along the lines of opportunism. What Programme did Syriza put forth?

9. What was the elected programme of Syriza?

The Thessalonika Conference is accepted as being the progaramme of the United Front of Syriza. (Syriza – The Thessalonika Programme” at—THE-THESSALONIKI-PROGRAMME.html#.VQSgEChOTdl

In broadest terms the Programme calls for cessation of “the Nazi Occupation forced loan from the Bank of Greece” – and lifting of the Greek Public Debt: A slogan “No sacrifice of the Euro” was often heard:

  • “Write-off the greater part of public debt’s nominal value so that it becomes sustainable in the context of a «European Debt Conference». It happened for Germany in 1953. It can also happen for the South of Europe and Greece.
  • Include a «growth clause» in the repayment of the remaining part so that it is growth-financed and not budget-financed.
  • Include a significant grace period («moratorium») in debt servicing to save funds for growth.
  • Exclude public investment from the restrictions of the Stability and Growth Pact.
  • A «European New Deal» of public investment financed by the European Investment Bank.
  • Quantitative easing by the European Central Bank with direct purchases of sovereign bonds.
  • Finally, we declare once again that the issue of the Nazi Occupation forced loan from the Bank of Greece is open for us. Our partners know it. It will become the country’s official position from our first days in power.
    On the basis of this plan, we will fight and secure a socially viable solution to Greece’s debt problem so that our country is able to pay off the remaining debt from the creation of new wealth and not from primary surpluses, which deprive society of income.
    With that plan, we will lead with security the country to recovery and productive reconstruction by:
  • Immediately increasing public investment by at least €4 billion.
  • Gradually reversing all the Memorandum injustices.
  • Gradually restoring salaries and pensions so as to increase consumption and demand.
  • Providing small and medium-sized enterprises with incentives for employment, and subsidizing the energy cost of industry in exchange for an employment and environmental clause.
  • Investing in knowledge, research, and new technology in order to have young scientists, who have been massively emigrating over the last years, back home.
  • Rebuilding the welfare state, restoring the rule of law and creating a meritocratic state.
    We are ready to negotiate and we are working towards building the broadest possible alliances in Europe.”

In this document it further says that “within our first days in power,” after “negotiations end” with the Troika (And on its Memorandum)– they will begin enacting the following “National Reconstruction Plan” What does this embody? There are Four Pillars to this, which we recap briefly.

The 1st Pillar is “Confronting the humanitarian crisis at an estimated Total estimated cost of €1,882 billion

“Our program…. amounts to a comprehensive grid of emergency interventions, so as to raise a shield of protection for the most vulnerable social strata. Free electricity (Total cost: €59,4 million).

  • Programme of meal subsidies to 300.000 families without income. Total cost: €756 million.
  • Programme of housing guarantee. The target is the provision of initially 30.000 apartments (30, 50, and 70 m²), by subsidizing rent at €3 per m². Total cost: €54 million.
  • Restitution of the Christmas bonus, as 13th pension, to 1.262.920 pensioners with a pension up to €700. Total cost: €543,06 million.
  • Free medical and pharmaceutical care for the uninsured unemployed. Total cost: €350 million.
  • Special public transport card for the long-term unemployed and those who are under the poverty line. Total cost: €120 million.
  • Repeal of the leveling of the special consumption tax on heating and automotive diesel. Bringing the starting price of heating fuel for households back to €0,90 per lt, instead of the current €1,20 per lt. Benefit is expected.”

The 2nd Pillar is “Restarting the economy and promoting tax justice” Total estimated cost: €6,5 billion; Total estimated benefit: €3,0 billion

“This second pillar is centered on measures to restart the economy. Priority is given to alleviating tax suppression on the real economy, relieving citizens of financial burdens, injecting liquidity and enhancing demand.

Excessive taxation on the middle class as well as on those who do not tax-evade has entrapped a great part of citizens in a situation which directly threatens their employment status, their private property, no matter how small, and even their physical existence, as proved by the unprecedented number in suicides.

  • Settlement of financial obligations to the state and social security funds in 84 installments. Estimated benefit: €3 billion

The revenue which we expect to collect on an annual basis (between 5% and 15% of the total owed) will be facilitated by the following measures:

  • The immediate cease of prosecution as well as of confiscation of bank accounts, primary residence, salaries, etc, and the issuance of tax clearance certificate to all those included in the settlement process.
  • A twelve-month suspension of prosecution and enforcement measures against debtors with an established zero income, included in the settlement process.
  • Repeal of the anti-constitutional treatment of outstanding financial obligations to the state as offence in the act (in flagrante delicto).
  • Abolition of the mandatory 50% down payment of the outstanding debt as a prerequisite to seek a court hearing. The down payment will be decided by a judge. It will be around 10%-20%, according to the financial circumstances of the debtor.
  • Immediate abolition of the current unified property tax (ENFIA). Introduction of a tax on large property. Immediate downward adjustment of property zone rates per m². Estimated cost: €2 billion.

That tax will be progressive with a high tax-free threshold. With the exception of luxurious homes, it will not apply on primary residence. In addition, it will not concern small and medium property.

  • Restitution of the €12000 annual income tax threshold. Increase in the number of tax brackets to ensure progressive taxation. Estimated cost: €1.5 billion.
  • Personal debt relief by restructuring non-performing loans («red loans») by individuals and enterprises.

This new relief legislation will include: the case-by-case partial write-off of debt incurred by people who now are under the poverty line, as well as the general principle of readjusting outstanding debt so that its total servicing to banks, the state, and the social security funds does not exceed ⅓ of a debtor’s income.

  • Establishment of a public development bank as well as of special-purpose banks: Starting capital at €1 billion.
  • Restoration of the minimum wage to €751. Zero cost.

The 3rd Pillar is “Regaining employment” Estimated cost: €3 billion

A net increase in jobs by 300,000 in all sectors of the economy – private, public, social – is expected to be the effect of our two-year plan to regain employment. …Restitution of the institutional framework to protect employment rights that was demolished by the Memoranda governments…. Restitution of the so-called «after-effect» of collective agreements; of the collective agreements themselves as well as of arbitration….. Abolition of all regulations allowing for massive and unjustifiable layoffs as well as for renting employees.

Zero cost: Employment programme for 300000 new jobs. Estimated first-year cost: €3 billion

The 4th Pillar is: “Transforming the political system to deepen democracy”

Total estimated cost: €0

From the first year of SYRIZA government, we set in motion the process for the institutional and democratic reconstruction of the state. We empower the institutions of representative democracy and we introduce new institutions of direct democracy.

Regional organization of the state. Enhancement of transparency, of the economic autonomy and the effective operation of municipalities and regions. We empower the institutions of direct democracy and introduce new ones.

Empowerment of citizens’ democratic participation. Introduction of new institutions, such as people’s legislative initiative, people’s veto and people’s initiative to call a referendum.

Empowerment of the Parliament, curtailment of parliamentary immunity, and repeal of the peculiar legal regime of MPs’ non-prosecution.

Regulation of the radio/television landscape by observing all legal preconditions and adhering to strict financial, tax, and social-security criteria. Re-establishment of ERT (Public Radio and Television) on a zero basis.”

(Thessalalonkia Programme; Ibid)

This is viewed by significant leaders of the Syriza as a “transitional programme,” as explained in an interview with Efklidis Tsakalotos, a member of Parliament with SYRIZA and responsible for the economic policy of Syriza. (An Interview With Syriza’s Efklidis Tsakalotos Syriza’s Moment; by E. AHMET TONAK” JANUARY 23-25, 2015; :

“Syriza’s programme is a transitional one. It wants to start the process of not only reversing the policies of austerity but also dismantling some of the central pillars of the neo-liberal order. As with all transitional programmes the goal is to open up fissures for more radical polices. Whether we in Europe can achieve this depends on the extent that social movements are inspired to make use of the opportunities that arise to broaden the agenda in favour of a more participatory, institutionally-diverse, and socially just economy. Left-wing governments can do only so much. Social transformations, especially in the modern era, need the active engagement of millions. Parties and governments of the Left must see their role as catalysts of these wider developments. What is certain is that we are living in interesting times!”

(Interview with Tsakalotos Ibid).

In truth, the programme that was put forward by Syriza entirely stays within the confines of the EU. Instead of breaking that mould, it attempts to lay a negotiating position to lessen the burdens that are being demanded of the Greek peoples. It is correct that Syriza has never claimed to be a Leninist type party. Nonetheless, this perspective put above, is the antithesis of Leninism. As explained by Lenin in ‘State and Revolution” “trasnational forms” are needed. Both Marx and Lenin certainly agreed that a “special stage” – or a stage of transition from capitalism to communism was needed:

“The first fact that has been established most accurately by the whole theory of development, by science as a whole–a fact that was ignored by the utopians, and is ignored by the present-day opportunists, who are afraid of the socialist revolution–is that, historically, there must undoubtedly be a special stage, or a special phase, of transition from capitalism to communism.”

However, crucially, this transition needed to be a revolutionary transition:

“Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”

Previously the question was put as follows: to achieve its emancipation, the proletariat must overthrow the bourgeoisie, win political power and establish its revolutionary dictatorship.

Now the question is put somewhat differently: the transition from capitalist society–which is developing towards communism–to communist society is impossible without a “political transition period”, and the state in this period can only be the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. What, then, is the relation of this dictatorship to democracy? We have seen that the Communist Manifesto simply places side by side the two concepts: “to raise the proletariat to the position of the ruling class” and “to win the battle of democracy”. On the basis of all that has been said above, it is possible to determine more precisely how democracy changes in the transition from capitalism to communism. In capitalist society, providing it develops under the most favourable conditions, we have a more or less complete democracy in the democratic republic. But this democracy is always hemmed in by the narrow limits set by capitalist exploitation, and consequently always remains, in effect, a democracy for the minority, only for the propertied classes, only for the rich. Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics: freedom for the slave-owners. Owing to the conditions of capitalist exploitation, the modern wage slaves are so crushed by want and poverty that “they cannot be bothered with democracy,” “cannot be bothered with politics”; in the ordinary, peaceful course of events, the majority of the population is debarred from participation in public and political life.”

Lenin State & Revolution: Experience of the Paris Commune of 1871. Marx’s Analysis (

Lenin points out that there is a “hemming in by narrow limits” of democracy. How much “narrower” is it when not only the single state “hems it in” – but the imperialists of the EU also “hem it in?” The next period, following the January elections of 2015, would answer this question.

10. Elections of 2015 and Negotiations with the Troika

The short-lived governments could not maintain credibility, as they were always accomodating to the new Troika demands. The mass movement shifted to the left, as shown by the huge demonstrations in the central Square. The elections of January 25 2015, sealed the rise to power of Syriza:

“After the Hellenic Parliament failed to elect a new President of State by 29 December 2014, the parliament was dissolved and a snap 2015 legislative election was scheduled for 25 January 2015. Syriza had a lead in opinion polls, but its anti-austerity position worried investors and eurozone supporters. The party’s chief economic advisor, John Milios, has downplayed fears that Greece under a Syriza government would exit the eurozone, while shadow development minister George Stathakis disclosed the party’s intention to crack down on Greek oligarchs if it wins the election. In the election, Syriza defeated the incumbent New Democracy and went on to become the largest party in the Hellenic Parliament, receiving 36.3% of the vote and 149 out of 300 seats.”

“January 25th marks a historic turning point in recent Greek history. After five years of devastating austerity, a social crisis without precedent in Europe, and a series of struggles that at some points, especially in 2010-2012, took an almost insurrectionary form, there has been a major political break. The parties that were responsible for putting Greek society under the disciplinary supervision of the so-called Troika (EU-ECB-IMF) suffered a humiliating defeat. PASOK, which in 2009 won almost 44% of the vote, now received only 4.68%; and the splinter party of Giorgos Papandreou, the PASOK Prime Minister who initiated the austerity programs, got 2.46%. New Democracy came in at 27.81%, almost 9% below SYRIZA. The electoral rise of the fascists of Golden Dawn has been halted, although they still maintain a worrying 6% of the vote. Another pro-austerity party, the RIVER, representing the neoliberal agenda (although nominally coming from the center-left) took only 6.05%, despite intensive media hype.”

(Panagiotis Sotiris;

Rapidly, by 26 January 2015, Tsipras and Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos agreed on a coalition government between Syriza and ANEL. Tsipras would be the Prime Minister of Greece, with the academic economist Yanis Varoufakis as his Minister of Finance.

Yet, in a graphic display of its intended response to the rebuke that the Troika and especially the German imperialists had received, the official line was hard:

“German government official Hans-Peter Friedrich however said: “The Greeks have the right to vote for whom they want. We have the right to no longer finance Greek debt.”

The Greek pro-Hoxha Marxist-Leninist view is that the Greek people took a stand against both the Troika and the Greek capitalists:

“By voting for SYRIZA, the majority of the Greek people rejected and condemned the cruel economic measures that were imposed, the neoliberal economic policy, in general, and the great-bourgeois parties of ND and PASOK that implemented these measures with the outmost servility. The victory of SYRIZA is also explained by the people’s resentment towards the fascist re-modeling of social life promoted by the government of the fascist scoundrel Samaras”. (January 24, 2015; “BOYCOTT the elections–The elections do not solve the problem of imperialist DEPENDANCE (economic-political-military, NATO bases etc.), nor repel-cancel ongoing EU politics against the people

However Anasintaxi also had called for abstention from the elections of 2015, arguing that:

“In contrary ALL the bourgeois parties are in favor of Greece’s STAY in imperialist European Union, and in EURO-EMU and propagate consciously, serve the interests of the EU imperialists with misleading MYTH-fantasies about “equal participation” (!) of the country in the “pit of lions” of the powerful European monopolies. At the same time they propagate that Greece leaving the Euro-EMU-EU will be a “major disaster” (!).

ALL the reformist social democratic parties (“K” KE-SYRIZA, etc.) and the extra-parliamentary organizations follow the same strategic choice of the EU monopolies and the local capital.

It is not only SYRIZA which supports the country STAY (in) EURO-EMU-EU, but also the “K” KE: “A solution outside the euro and return to the drachma in the present circumstances would be catastrophic” (A. Papariga, “Rizospastis” 31/5/2011, p.6) Moreover: the leaders of the “K” KE definitively renounced the anti-imperialist struggle for the overthrow of dependence”

(January 24, 2015; “BOYCOTT the elections–The elections do not solve the problem of imperialist DEPENDANCE (economic-political-military, NATO bases etc.), nor repel-cancel ongoing EU politics against the people

After the election, Anasintaxi warned that Syriza had entered into coalition with right-wing ANEL. However early on, the government had taken some progressive steps:

“During the first three weeks following the elections, the SYRIZA government has taken a series of actions in order to implement its program that has won the support of wide popular strata, an attitude that is unfortunately accompanied by certain illusions. At the same time, the government’s actions have met a very negative reception from Commission – ECB – IMF whose pressure and constant interference in the country’s internal affairs is condemned by the Greek people. We think that, up to a certain extent, SYRIZA’s victory creates favorable conditions for the strengthening of class struggles. Whether this possibility becomes a reality depends, of course on many factors the most important of which is the organization of the majority of the working masses in independent and united trade unions and the influence exerted on these and, the society in general, by the consistent left-wing, anti-imperialist and revolutionary communists.”

(Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi Organization ‘Some questions and answers about the current situation in Greece’; Article to be published in “Unity & Struggle” (Extended version of an interview given to the comrades of Iran); march 30; 2015. At

At this early point, both Tsipras and Varoufakis were apparently determined to negotiate hard, with the threat to leave the EU if the Troika did not back down:

“Greece’s finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has spelled out the negotiating strategy of the Syriza government with crystal clarity.
“Exit from the euro does not even enter into our plans, quite simply because the euro is fragile. It is like a house of cards. If you pull away the Greek card, they all come down,” he said.
“Do we really want Europe to break apart? Anybody who is tempted to think it possible to amputate Greece strategically from Europe should be careful. It is very dangerous. Who would be hit after us? Portugal? What would happen to Italy when it discovers that it is impossible to stay within the austerity straight-jacket?”
“There are Italian officials – I won’t say from which institution – who have approached me to say they support us, but they can’t say the truth because Italy is at risk of bankruptcy and they fear the consequence from Germany. A cloud of fear has been hanging over Europe over recent years. We are becoming worse than the Soviet Union,” he told the Italian TV station RAI.
This earned a stiff rebuke from the Italian finance minister, Pier Carlo Padoan. “These comments are out of place. Italy’s debt is solid and sustainable,” he said.
Yet the point remains. Deflationary conditions are causing interest costs to rise faster than nominal GDP in Italy, Spain, and Portugal, automatically pushing public debt ratios ever higher.
Berkeley economist Barry Eichengreen warns that Grexit would be “Lehman squared”, setting off a calamitous chain reaction with worldwide consequences. Syriza’s gamble is that the EU authorities know this, whatever officials may claim in public.
Premier Alexis Tsipras is pushing this to the wire. Rightly or wrongly, he calculates that Greece holds the trump card – the detonation of mutual assured destruction, to borrow from Cold War parlance – and that all the threats from EMU power centres are mere bluster.
His cool nerve has caught Brussels, Frankfurt, Berlin, and the markets off guard. They assumed that this 40-year neophyte would back away from exorbitant demands in his landmark policy speech to the Greek parliament on Sunday night. Instead they heard a declaration of war.
He vowed to implement every measure in Syriza’s pre-electoral Thessaloniki Programme “in their entirety” with no ifs and buts. This even includes a legal demand for €11bn of war reparations from Germany, a full 71 years after the last Wehrmacht soldier left Greek soil.
There is no possible extension of Greece’s bail-out programme with the EU-IMF Troika, for that would be an “extension of mistakes and disaster”, a perpetuation of the debt-deflation trap. “The People have abolished the Memorandum. We will not negotiate our sovereignty,” he said.
Macropolis said every item was in there: a pension rise for the poorest; no further rises in the retirement age; an increase in the minimum wage to €751 a month by 2016; a return to collective bargaining; an end to privatisation of utilities; cancellation of a new property tax (ENFIA); a rise in tax-free thresholds from €5,000 to €12,000; and a rehiring of 10,000 public workers fired “illegally.”

(Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. “Greece’s leaders stun Europe with escalating defiance”. ‘The Telegraph’; 09 Feb 2015;

However in a foretaste of the future intransigence of the German imperialists, led by Wolfang Schauble the German Finance Minister – Greece’s first counter-offer was rejected out of hand:

“Schauble continues to insist that Greece sticks to the bailout conditions agreed with previous governments under which financial support will be given only in exchange for substantial structural reforms.
The finance ministry’s position risks deepening splits within Europe over how to deal with Greece as an end of February deadline nears at which the previous bailout agreement with its creditors and the European Central Bank runs out, leaving Greece facing bankruptcy.
In contrast to Berlin, the EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker welcomed the Greek application, saying in his opinion it could pave the way for a “sensible compromise in the interest of financial stability in the Eurozone as a whole”.
But experts said Greece was merely playing for time, and that its application had indeed contained no new commitments. “The Greeks have simply tried to pass the buck back to the middle,” Matthias Kullas from the Centre for European Politics in Freiburg told The Guardian.
He stressed the German reaction was not a rejection over reaching a compromise with Greece, but did mean that expectations of an agreement on Friday when finance ministers from the eurogroup meet again, were now “slim”.
“If an agreement is reached, it will be at the last minute,” he said. “It’s in the interest of both sides to stick to their guns. The earlier one of them diverts from his course, the weaker his position becomes and the more elbow room he leaves for the other.”

(Kate Connolly. “Germany rejects Greek bailout plan – as it happened”. The Guardian 19 February 2015;

A furious cycle of media reports and counter reports paralleled a back and forth between the European Union and the Greek negotiating team of Tsipras and Varoufakis. In essence no counter-offer by the Greek team was deemed acceptable. It is true that the initial efforts of the Greek team to counter the demands were insubstantial. However even when substantial retreats had been offered, they were humiliatingly rejected. While the European team was overall untied, strains emerged. It was apparent that the Germans were the most stout in the rejections. However both the French and the Italians were wavering. Nonetheless even the IMF initially firmly supported the German position:

“Last week Greece received a four-month extension of its $277 billion bailout program. The parliaments of Finland, Estonia and, most importantly, Germany, as well as Greece’s other EU partners, approved the bailout program that was agreed to Feb. 20, provided that Greece submit a list of planned reforms. Greece submitted six pages of reforms last Monday, but not all of Greece’s creditors think they are sufficient.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), wrote a letter to Dutch Finance Minster Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is also president of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, expressing her concern that Greece’s proposed reforms were not specific enough, nor did they contain sufficient assurances on their design and implementation. The letter is the most recent, and public, indication of the IMF’s hesitancy toward Greece and its bailout program.

(Maria Savel. “IMF Stands Firm, Forcing Greece and Syriza to Accept Hard Concessions” Politics Review, March 3, 2015,

By March, Tsipras was still assuming the EU would not want to have a member leave:

“SPIEGEL: Many experts now fear a “Graccident” — Greece’s accidental exit from the euro. If the ECB doesn’t agree to your T-Bills, that’s exactly what might happen.
Tspiras: I cannot imagine that. People won’t risk Europe’s disintegration over a T-Bill of almost €1.6 billion. There is a saying for this in Greece: A wet man does not fear the rain.”

(Der Spiegel Interview Conducted By Manfred Ertel, Katrin Kuntz and Mathieu von Rohr: Greek Prime Minister Tsipras: ‘We Don’t Want to Go on Borrowing Forever’; March 7 2015; at

As time went on, the Greek banks were forced to put restrictions on withdrawals. The EU allowed some further liquidity in Greece by allowing Greece to print more T-Bills, but purely for internal use. This was violated by Greece. More and more comments were heard that Greece might have to exit the EU – a so called Grexit or Greccident:

“The current money-go-round is unsustainable. Euro-region taxpayers fund their governments, which in turn bankroll the European Central Bank. Cash from the ECB’s Emergency Liquidity Scheme flows to the Greek banks; they buy treasury bills from their government, which uses the proceeds to … repay its International Monetary Fund debts! …
There’s blame on both sides for the current impasse. Euro-area leaders should be giving Greece breathing space to get its economic act together. But the Greek leadership has been cavalier in its treatment of its creditors. It’s been amateurish in expecting that a vague promise to collect more taxes would win over Germany and its allies. And it’s been unrealistic in expecting the ECB to plug a funding gap in the absence of a political agreement for getting back to solvency. ……Greece’s three-year bond yield is back above 20 percent, double what it was just before Alexis Tsipras was elected prime minister on an anti-austerity platform in January. At that level, there’s no way Greece can end its reliance on its bailout partners anytime soon.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was scathing yesterday about Greece’s efforts to balance its election promises with its bailout obligations, and about its standing with international investors:
“None of my colleagues, or anyone in the international institutions, can tell me how this is supposed to work. Greece was able to sell those treasury bills only in Greece, with no foreign investor ready to invest. That means that all of the confidence was destroyed again.”
Every day’s delay in cutting a deal pushes Greece a little closer to leaving the common currency. That would be a shame, since it’s an outcome no one — apart from Schaeuble — seems to desire. The mutability of euro membership could also unleash contagion and a domino effect. But it looks increasingly inevitable.”

(Mark Gilbert; “Greece’s Euro Exit Seems Inevitable”: 17 March 2015;

By April 2015, reports circulated that secret plans were being drawn up to revive the Drachma and go into default (Evans-Pritchard A, 2 April 2015; Telegraph at

On May 4th the BBC reported that Greek banks were not allowing pensioners to withdraw more than a small amount, and that public sector workers were nto being paid regularly ( However on May 6th however Greece paid back $200 million to the IMF and avoided insolvency. At that time the European Central Bank (ECB) granted further liquidity to Greece. (Phillip Inman and Helena Smith; 6 May, The Guardian; at

By June the situation was still not resolved, and Greece’s peoples were in an even more precarious position. By this time, Syriza had retreated substantially more. Michael Roberts summarises to June:

“The IMF representative in the negotiations, Poul Thomsen, has “pushed the austerity agenda with a curious passion that shocks even officials in the European Commission, pussy cats by comparison” (here are the latest demands of the Troika Greece – Policy Commitments Demanded By EU etc Jun 2015). The IMF is demanding further sweeping measures of austerity at a time when the Greek government debt burden stands at 180% of GDP, when the Greeks have already applied the biggest swing in budget deficit to surplus by any government since the 1930s and when further austerity would only drive the Greek capitalist economy even deeper into its depression. As the Daily Telegraph summed it up: “six years of depression, a deflationary spiral, a 26pc fall GDP, 60pc youth unemployment, mass exodus of the young and the brightest, chronic hysteresis that will blight Greece’s prospects for a decade to come.”

The Syriza government has already made many and significant retreats from its election promises and wishes.  Many ‘red lines’ have been crossed already. It has dropped the demand for the cancellation of all or part of the government debt; it has agreed to carry through most of the privatisations imposed under the agreement reached with the previous conservative New Democracy government; it has agreed to increased taxation in various areas; it is willing to introduce ‘labour reforms’ and it has postponed the implementation of a higher minimum wage and the re-employment of thousands of sacked staff.

But the IMF and Eurogroup wanted even more. The Troika has agreed that the original targets for a budget surplus (before interest payments on debt) could be reduced from 3-4% of GDP a year up to 2020 to 1% this year, rising to 2% next etc. But this is no real concession because government tax revenues have collapsed during the negotiation period. At the end of 2014, the New Democracy government said that it would end the bailout package and take no more money because it could repay its debt obligations from then on as the government was running a primary surplus sufficient to do so. But that surplus has now disappeared as rich Greeks continue to hide their money and avoid tax payments and small businesses and employees hold back on paying in the uncertainty of what is going to happen. The general government primary cash surplus has narrowed by more than 59 percent to 651 million euros in the 4-month period of 2015 from 1.6 billion in the corresponding period last year
The Syriza government has only been able to pay its government employees their wages and meet state pension outgoings by stopping all payments of bills to suppliers in the health service, schools and other public services. The result is that the government has managed to scrape together just enough funds to meet IMF and ECB repayments in the last few months, while hospitals have no medicines and equipment and schools have no books and materials; and doctors and teachers leave the country.

Even Ashoka Mody, former chief of the IMF’s bail-out in Ireland, has criticised the attitude of his successor in the Greek negotiations: “Everything that we have learned over the last five years is that it is stunningly bad economics to enforce austerity on a country when it is in a deflationary cycle. Trauma patients have to heal their wounds before they can train for the 10K.”

The final red lines have been reached. What the Syriza leaders finally balked at was the demand by the IMF and the Eurogroup that the government raise VAT on electricity by 10 percentage points, directly hitting the fuel payments of the poorest; and also that the poorest state pensioners should have their pensions cuts so that the social security system could balance its books. Further down the road, the Troika wants major cuts in the pensions system by raising the retirement ages and increasing contributions. The Syriza leaders were even prepared to agree to some VAT rises and pension ‘reforms’, but the two specific demands of the Troika appear to have been just too much.”

(Roberts, Michael Blog; June 15, 2015;: “Ten minutes past midnight”;

Increasingly leading economists including Nobel Laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, Amartya Sen and others – warned about a new “Versailles moment”, and insisted that German stubbornness was actually bad for Europe as a whole, and that a “hair-cut” to the debt was necessary – i.e. a dramatic waiver-cut of the debt (Simon Wren-Lewis. “Why Amartya Sen Is Right About What Is Being Done To Greece”; 12 June 2015; in ‘Social Europe’ at President Obama of the USA had already agreed that:

“”You cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in the midst of depression.”
“At some point, there has to be a growth strategy in order for them to pay off their debts to eliminate some of their deficits,” (Aurelia End; Obama joins ally list on Greek austerity relief )

As the Left inside Syriza resisted Tsipras’s slippery slope of acceptance of new demands, they increasingly pointed to the example of Iceland who had defaulted on international debts in a similar situation. They got substantial agreement from even the ANSEL coalition party members also. (Ambrose Pritchard-Evans. “Syriza Left demands ‘Icelandic’ default as Greek defiance stiffens”.14 June ‘Daily Telegraph’; ).

In a twist to the pre-July series of negotiations, as even more demands were made of the package being offered by Tsipras and Varoufakis, Tsipras called a snap referendum, saying he needed to have a further mandate form the Greek people, in order to agree to the latest demands and obtain the new tranche of bail-out funds. Bizarrely however, he then wrote to the Imperialists saying he would accept – only to find that the imperialists had withdrawn their offer. Tsipras had to go on to the snap Referendum:

“Tsipras infuriated eurozone finance ministers by calling a snap referendum on proposals to agree a deal to release the €7.2bn in bailout funds it needed to meet an IMF repayment. His argument was that the concessions still being demanded by creditors, including VAT rises and rapid reform of the unaffordable pension system, and the lack of any serious prospect of debt relief, meant he could not sign up without a fresh public mandate – and, indeed, he and Varoufakis immediately urged their countrymen to vote “No”.

Yet it emerged that while publicly lambasting the troika, the very same Tsipras had dispatched a two-page letter to Brussels that caved into many of the demands he had angrily rejected a few days earlier – and continued to insist on putting to the public vote. It was too late: his exasperated creditors, and Germany in particular, in the person of Berlin’s implacable finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, decided enough was enough and the offer was no longer on the table. Amid the storm of political recriminations, the European Central Bank capped financial support to the Greek banking sector, forcing the government to impose capital controls, to stem the relentless slow-motion bank run that has been leaching the life out of the country’s financial system for months. And last Tuesday, as it warned it would, Athens defaulted on its payment to the IMF. To all intents and purposes, the country is bust.

So Greek voters now face trudging to the polls today, either to vote Yes to a set of proposals that are no longer on the table – presumably ushering in a new, more emollient government that would get straight back to the negotiating table – or to send a defiant no to further austerity. Tsipras and Varoufakis insist that “No” would not mean plunging out of the eurozone, let alone the EU. Instead, they say they would re-enter talks as if brandishing a petition. Yet last time they were handed a stock of political capital by the Greek public, in January’s general election, they quickly squandered it. Both Tsipras and Varoufakis have forged their political reputations by rejecting consensus and overturning the received wisdom. But international diplomacy means understanding that everyone at the table, whatever your grievances against them, has their own mandate and their own domestic audience to placate.

Instead of opening up ways for the troika to save face, Tsipras and Varoufakis have used every means available – from provocative tweets to spiky speeches in Syntagma Square – to heighten the divisions between Greece and its eurozone partners, accusing them of trying to blackmail and humiliate the Greek people into submission.”

(Observer Editorial. “The Observer view on Greece’s referendum “5 July 2015;

In the midst of this circus, before the Referendum – the USA and the IMF (in the person of Christine Lagarde) exerted further pressure on the Germans to bend. Already calls had been made by many economists, that Germany had been granted a waiver on the demands at the end of the First Word war (the Versailles treaty). These had been firmly ignored by the German imperialists. Now the IMF threw a spanner into the erst-while United Front of the imperialists:

“The International Monetary Fund has electrified the referendum debate in Greece after it conceded that the crisis-ridden country needs up to €60bn (£42bn) of extra funds over the next three years and large-scale debt relief to create “a breathing space” and stabilise the economy.
With days to go before Sunday’s knife-edge referendum that the country’s creditors have cast as a vote on whether it wants to keep the euro, the IMF revealed a deep split with Europe as it warned that Greece’s debts were “unsustainable”.
Fund officials said they would not be prepared to put a proposal for a third Greek bailout to the Washington-based organisation’s board unless it included both a commitment to economic reform and debt relief.
According to the IMF, Greece should have a 20-year grace period before making any debt repayments and final payments should not take place until 2055. It would need €10bn to get through the next few months and a further €50bn after that.
The Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras welcomed the IMF’s intervention saying in a TV interview that what the IMF said was never put to him during negotiations.”

(Philipp Inman, Larry Elliot, Alberto Nardelli; IMF says Greece needs extra €60bn in funds and debt relief”; The Guardian 2 July 2015; at

The Referendum was held on 5th July 2015. The result was a defiant “NO!” to the European imperialists:

“The final result in the referendum, published by the interior ministry, was 61.3% “No”, against 38.7% who voted “Yes.”
Greece’s governing Syriza party had campaigned for a “No”, saying the bailout terms were humiliating.
Their opponents warned that this could see Greece ejected from the eurozone, and a summit of eurozone heads of state has now been called for Tuesday.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said late on Sunday that Greeks had voted for a “Europe of solidarity and democracy”.
“As of tomorrow, Greece will go back to the negotiating table and our primary priority is to reinstate the financial stability of the country,” he said in a televised address.
“This time, the debt will be on the negotiating table,” he added, saying that an International Monetary Fund assessment published this week “confirms Greek views that restructuring the debt is necessary.”

(Mark Lowen; “Greece debt crisis: Greek voters reject bailout offer”; 6th July; BBC

Strangely – Tsipras appeared not too happy. It became clear that he had been expecting a ‘Yes’ vote, which would enable him to cave in to the EU demands. He had relied on the often remarked on “wish of the Greek peoples to see themselves as European” and thus not to risk leaving the EU. But the Greek people had seen the callous manipulations of the EU leaders.

On the same day the results were announced, Yanis Varoufakis resigned – saying that this would help the negotiations going forward, but that this resignation had been essentially, at the request of Tsipras.

Proponents of the logical outcome of the “No” Vote – such as Yanis Varoufakis – were simply told to drop alternative plans. Varoufakis had been drawing up “Plan B” – whereby if the Troika did not retreat to any key extent – Greece would resurrect the pre-Euro currency of the Drachma.

Astonishingly, given this pledge by the Greek people to stand fast, in the final run of negotiations with the EU, Tsipras – then completely capitulated to Eurozone, primarily German imperialists. Unsurprisingly, in the renewed negotiations – the European leaders and most sections of banking capital – had simply turned their backs on the Greek populations views and demanded even harsher terms:

“The Greek government capitulated on Thursday to demands from its creditors for severe austerity measures in return for a modest debt write-off, raising hopes that a rescue deal could be signed at an emergency meeting of EU leaders on Sunday….Athens has put forward a 13-page document detailing reforms and public spending cuts worth €13bn with the aim of securing a third bailout from creditors that would raise €53.5bn and allow it to stay inside the currency union.
A cabinet meeting signed off the reform package after ministers agreed that the dire state of the economy and the debilitating closure of the country’s banks meant it had no option but to agree to almost all the creditors terms.”

(Phillip Inman, Graeme Wearden and Helena Smith: ”; 9 July 2015 Greece debt crisis: Athens accepts harsh austerity as bailout deal nears “Greek cabinet backs a 13-page package of reforms and spending cuts worth €13bn to secure third bailout and modest debt writeoff

As even the Guardian concluded: “Generally, Tsipras appears to have finally capitulated in the face of threats that Greece would be ejected from the eurozone:

“Greece and the rest of the eurozone have finally reached an agreement that could lead to a third bailout and keep the country in the eurozone.
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras conceded to a further swathe of austerity measures and economic reforms after more than 16 hours of negotiations in Brussels. He has agreed to immediately pass laws to further reform the tax and pension system, liberalise the labour market, and open up closed professions. Sunday trading laws will be relaxed, and even milk producers and bakers will be deregulated.
The Financial Times has dubbed it:
‘The most intrusive economic supervision programme ever mounted in the EU’.
Greece was forced to accept these measures after Germany piled intense pressure, as a price for a new deal. EU officials told us that Tsipras was subjected to “mental waterboarding” in closed-door meetings with Angela Merkel, Donald Tusk and Francois Hollande.
The plan must now be approved by the Athens parliament by Wednesday, and then voted through various national parliaments. If agreement is reached, talks can then begin towards a a new three-year bailout worth up to €86bn (£61bn), accompanied by further monitoring by Greece’s creditors.
The deal appears to end Greece’s five-month battle with its creditors, which has gripped the eurozone, dominated the political agenda and alarmed the markets.
Emerging from the summit, Tsipras admitted it had been tough – but insisted he had won concessions on debt relief (sometime in the future) as well as the medium-term funding plan.
He also managed to persuade the eurozone that a new investment fund, that will manage and sell off €50bn Greek assets, would be based in Athens not Luxembourg.
But generally, Tsipras appears to have finally capitulated in the face of threats that Greece would be ejected from the eurozone.”

(Graeme Wearden and Helen Davidson. “Greek debt crisis: deal reached after marathon all-night summit – as it happened”. The Guardian 13 July 2015;

Yanis Varoufakis summed the story up to that point as a “coup”:

“The recent Euro Summit is indeed nothing short of the culmination of a coup. In 1967 it was the tanks that foreign powers used to end Greek democracy. In my interview with Philip Adams, on ABC Radio National’s LNL, I claimed that in 2015 another coup was staged by foreign powers using, instead of tanks, Greece’s banks. Perhaps the main economic difference is that, whereas in 1967 Greece’s public property was not targeted, in 2015 the powers behind the coup demanded the handing over of all remaining public assets, so that they would be put into the servicing of our un-payble, unsustainable debt.”

(Varoufakis, Y. “On the Euro Summit’s Statement on Greece: First thoughts”; 14 July 2015.

While the Referendum gave a clear signal that the Greek people had rejected the spirit of compromise being forced by the Western Banks – the questions had been framed deliberately imprecisely. It did not ask the Greek people to consider the option of leaving the Eurozone as such. This allowed the Tsipras government to posture it did “not have a mandate” to reject the harsh terms of the Troika and move Greece to leave the Eurozone.

Inevitably this will lead to a rupture of the Syriza United Front:

“…. Syriza, which is in coalition with the rightwing populist Independent party, is expected to meet huge opposition from within its own ranks and from trade unions and youth groups that viewed the referendum as a vote against any austerity.

Panagiotis Lafazanis, the energy minister and influential hard-leftist, who on Wednesday welcomed a deal for a new €2bn gas pipeline from Russia, has ruled out a new tough austerity package. Lafazanis represents around 70 Syriza MPs who have previously taken a hard line against further austerity measures and could yet wreck any top-level agreement.”

(Phillip Inman, Graeme Wearden and Helena Smith: Guardian Ibid; 9 July 2015)

The concession made by Greece in accepting the further round of “austerity” measures is huge:

“The new proposals include sweeping reforms to VAT to raise 1% of GDP and moving more items to the 23% top rate of tax, including restaurants – a key battleground before. Greece has also dropped its opposition to abolishing the lower VAT rate on its islands, starting with the most popular tourist attractions. Athens also appears to have made significant concessions on pensions, agreeing to phase out solidarity payments for the poorest pensioners by December 2019, a year earlier than planned. It would also raise the retirement age to 67 by 2022. And it has agreed to raise corporation tax to 28%, as the IMF wanted, not 29%, as previously targeted.
Greece is also proposing to cut military spending by €100m in 2015 and by €200m in 2016, and implement changes to reform and improve tax collection and fight tax evasion. It will also press on with privatisation of state assets including regional airports and ports. Some government MPs had vowed to reverse this.
In return, Greece appears to be seeking a three-year loan deal worth €53.5bn…….
Several EU leaders said the troika of creditors – the European commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank – must also make concessions to secure Greece’s future inside the eurozone.
Donald Tusk, who chairs the EU summits, said European officials would make an effort to address Greece’s key request for a debt write-off. …
On Thursday, the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble said the possibility of some kind of debt relief would be discussed over coming days, although he cautioned it may not provide much help.
“The room for manoeuvre through debt reprofiling or restructuring is very small,” he said.
Greece has long argued its debt is too high to be paid back and that the country requires some form of debt relief. The IMF agrees, but key European states such as Germany have resisted the idea…..
German ECB governing council member Jens Weidmann argued Greek banks should not get more emergency credit from the central bank unless a bailout deal is struck.
 He said it was up to eurozone governments and Greek leaders themselves to rescue Greece.
The central bank “has no mandate to safeguard the solvency of banks and governments,” he said in a speech.
The ECB capped emergency credit to Greek banks amid doubt over whether the country will win further rescue loans from other countries. The banks closed and limited cash withdrawals because they had no other way to replace deposits.
Weidmann said he welcomed the fact that central bank credit “is no longer being used to finance capital flight caused by the Greek government.”


At the time of writing the final scenes in the disintegrating Syriza “United Front’ parliament have yet to be played out.

However the shrewdest elements of the non-Marxist-Leninist left recognize that the time is long due, for Greece to exit the European Union to regain its own measure of independence. Many on the left agree that this will be hard.

The leading proponent of this has been Costas Lapavitas – a MP in the Greek Parliament but not a member of Syriza – and radical economist. His view has been put in several books and articles for example these cited here: ([1], Lapvitas, C. Interview with Sebastien Budgen: ‘Greece: Phase Two”; in Jacobin. At [2] Costas Lapavitsas: The Syriza strategy has come to an end’. Interview with Press Project and Der Spiegel; [3[ The crisis of the Eurozone”, July 10, 2010 ; Greek Left Review. At

Although this view has certainly been challenged (Bach, Paula. “Exit the Euro? Polemic with Greek Economist Costas Lapavitsas.” Left Voice News Project, at:

Marxist-Leninists argue that leaving the imperialist bloc of the EU – would be the correct policy for the working class, peasantry and poor sections of Greece.

When asked on how the Anasintaxi Organization sees the future events, they replied:

“Both reformist parties (“K”KE and SYRIZA) have accepted the Greek capital’s present strategic choice to maintain the country in the EU and the Eurozone… In order to contribute to the growth of the working class struggles and the rise of the revolutionary movement, the Movement for Reorganization of KKE (1918-1955) is striving, under very unfavorable conditions, to achieve the following:

A) Together with the reorganization, the re-birth of KKE (1918-1955) and the ideological-political-organizational unity of the Greek communists on basis of Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism and the dissemination of the Marxist conception of socialism-communism;
it actively supports and participates in the struggle of the working class and all the toilers against the reduction of salaries and pensions, against the deterioration of their position in general and supports all demands that aim to defend their (economic, trade-union, social and political) class interests in opposition to the foreign and Greek capital and in particular, the EU monopolies which impose directly the current austerity measures.

B) The formation of united, massive and truly independent trade unions whose aim will be the resistance to the extreme neo-liberal policy of austerity and the further development of the workers’ and people’s struggles combined with the struggle against nationalism-racism-fascism-Nazism (all very dangerous enemies of the working class and the people) as well as “anti-Germanism” and “anti-Hellenism” (the two sides of the bourgeois nationalism) incited, during this period, by the nationalist circles of the two countries. At the same time, these new trade unions will put forward the demand for the exit of the country from the imperialist EU not only because of the increasing dependence and the deterioration of the Greece-EU relations at the expense of our country but also because of the fact that the economic policy and the hard, anti-popular measures are directly imposed by Brussels.

C) The cooperation between the consistent left-wing, anti-imperialist and anti-fascist forces that will aim at the formation of a massive, anti-fascist, popular, front that will fight against the dependence on imperialism, in general, and the exit of Greece from the EU, the Eurozone and NATO.”

(Αναρτήθηκε από Anasintaxi Organization ‘Some questions and answers about the current situation in Greece’; Article to be published in “Unity & Struggle” (Extended version of an interview given to the comrades of Iran); march 30; 2015. At

APPENDIX: Select Chronology 1975 to 2015:
Amended from BBC version at:

1975 – New constitution declares Greece a parliamentary republic with some executive powers vested in a president.
1980 – Conservative Constantine Karamanlis elected president.
1981 – Greece joins EU. Andreas Papandreou’s Socialist Party (Pasok) wins elections.
1985 – President Karamanlis resigns in protest at government plans to reduce powers of president. Christos Sartzetakis becomes head of state.
1990 – Centre-right New Democracy party forms government under party leader Constantine Mitsotakis
1993 – Election returns Papandreou to power for PASOK.
2004 March – Conservative New Democracy party led by Costas Karamanlis wins general election, ending over a decade of Pasok government.
2005 April – Parliament ratifies EU constitution.
2005 December – Amid protest strikes by transport workers, parliament approves changes to labour laws, including an end to jobs for life in the public sector. The plans sparked industrial action in June.
2006 March – Public sector workers strike over pay and in protest at government plans to scrap job security laws and intensify privatisation.
2007 September – Minister Karamanlis wins a narrow majority in the poll. He says he now has a mandate for more reforms but also pledges to make national unity a priority.
2008 March – Parliament narrowly passes government’s controversial pension reform bill in face of general public sector strike and mass protests.
2008 December – Students and young people take to city streets in nationwide protests and riots over the police killing of a 15-year-old boy in Athens. Major public-sector strikes coincide to increase pressure on the government over its economic policies.

Economic meltdown
2002 January – Euro replaces drachma.
2004 December – European Commission issues formal warning after Greece found to have falsified budget deficit data in run-up to joining eurozone.
2009 October – Opposition Pasok socialist party wins snap election called by PM Karamanlis. George Papandreou takes over as new prime minister.

Debt crisis
2009 December – Greece’s credit rating is downgraded by one of world’s three leading rating agencies amid fears the government could default on its ballooning debt. PM Papandreou announces programme of tough public spending cuts.
2010 January- March – Government announces two more rounds of tough austerity measures, and faces mass protests and strikes.
2010 April/May – Fears of a possible default on Greece’s debts prompt eurozone countries to approve a $145bn (110bn euros; £91bn) rescue package for the country, in return for a round of even more stringent austerity measures. Trade unions call a general strike.
2011 June – 24-hour general strike. Tens of thousands of protesters march on parliament to oppose government efforts to pass new austerity laws.

Crisis deepens
2011 July – European Union leaders agree a major bailout for Greece over its debt crisis by channelling 109bn euros through the European Financial Stability Facility.
All three main credit ratings agencies cut Greece’s rating to a level associated with a substantial risk of default.
2011 October – Eurozone leaders agree a 50% debt write-off for Greece in return for further austerity measures. PM George Papandreou casts the deal into doubt by announcing a referendum on the rescue package.
2011 November – Faced with a storm of criticism over his referendum plan, Mr Papandreou withdraws it and then announces his resignation.
Lucas Papademos, a former head of the Bank of Greece, becomes interim prime minister of a New Democracy/Pasok coalition with the task of getting the country back on track in time for elections scheduled provisionally for the spring of 2012.

New bailout plan
2012 February – Against a background of violent protests on the streets of Athens, the Greek parliament approves a new package of tough austerity measures agreed with the EU as the price of a 130bn euro bailout.
2012 March – Greece reaches a “debt swap” deal with its private-sector lenders, enabling it to halve its massive debt load.
2012 May – Early parliamentary elections see support for coalition parties New Democracy and Pasok slump, with a increase in support for anti-austerity parties of the far left and right. The three top-ranking parties fail to form a working coalition and President Papoulias calls fresh elections for 17 June. The far-right Golden Dawn party based its 2012 election campaign on hostility towards immigrants
2012 June – Further parliamentary elections boost New Democracy, albeit leaving it without a majority. Leader Antonis Samaras assembles a coalition with third-placed Pasok and smaller groups to pursue the austerity programme.

Anti-austerity protests
2012 September – Trade unions stage 24-hour general strike against government austerity measures. Police fire tear gas to disperse anarchist rally outside parliament.
2012 October – Parliament passes a 13.5bn-euro austerity plan aimed at securing the next round of EU and IMF bailout loans; the package – the fourth in three years – includes tax rises and pension cuts.
2013 January – Unemployment rises to 26.8% – the highest rate in the EU.
2013 April – Youth unemployment climbs to almost 60%.
Public broadcaster closed
2013 June – The government announces without warning that it is suspending the state broadcaster ERT in a bid to save money. The decision gives rise to mass protests and a 24-hour strike.
2013 August – New state broadcaster EDT is launched.
2013 September – Government launches crackdown on far-right Golden Dawn party. Party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and five other Golden Dawn MPs are arrested on charges including assault, money laundering and belonging to a criminal organisation.
2013 December – Parliament passes 2014 budget, which is predicated on a return to growth after six years of recession. Prime Minister Samaras hails this as the first decisive step towards exiting the bailout.
2014 February – Greek unemployment reaches a record high of 28%.
2014 March – Parliament narrowly approves a big reform package that will open more retail sectors to competition, part of a deal between Greece and its international lenders.
2014 April – Eurozone finance ministers say they’ll release more than 8bn euros of further bailout funds to Greece.
Greece raises nearly four billion dollars from world financial markets in its first sale of long-term government bonds for four years, in a move seen as an important step in the country’s economic recovery.

Left in power
2014 May – Anti-austerity, radical leftist Syriza coalition wins European election with 26.6% of the vote.
2014 December – Parliament’s failure to elect a new president sparks a political crisis and prompts early elections.
2015 January – Alexis Tsipras of Syriza becomes prime minister after winning parliamentary elections, and forms a coalition with the nationalist Independent Greeks party.
2015 February – The government negotiates a four-month extension to Greece’s bailout in return for dropping key anti-austerity measures and undertaking a eurozone-approved reform programme.
2015 June – European Central Bank ends emergency funding. Greece closes banks, imposes capital controls and schedules referendum on European Union bailout terms for 5 July.Government reinstates former state broadcaster ERT as promised in Syriza manifesto.
2015 July – Greece becomes first developed country to miss a payment to the International Monetary Fund, having already delayed it

‘I’m a Russian Occupant’: Viral video justifies imperial aggression

A recently released YouTube video entitled ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’ is a deeply telling panegyric to 19th century-style white man’s burden imperialism, which goes a long way towards explaining what is wrong with the mentality of many Russians today.

It’s a rare occurrence to see proponents of a worldview unironically putting out such a bold (and frankly racist) statement of agency, a statement which approaches Idiocracy levels of parody. One could almost laugh, if this clarion call to unapologetic national pride was not so blatantly supremacist and aggressive.

To put it all in a rather crude nutshell, everything in this part of the world would be crap if it weren’t for the Russians, and it’s crap again because Moscow’s petulant children forgot the benefit of kowtowing to their suzerain. That might sound like an exaggeration. It is not. In a typical display of Russian militaristic bravado, the highly-stylized clip begins with a so-called Little Green Man (slang for the crack Russian troops who took Crimea sans insignia) loading a clip into his AK-100 while the narrator proclaims that being an occupier is his manifest destiny.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Turning his eye to Yermak’s 16th century conquest of Siberia, the video goes full on Heart of Darkness by arguing that now they (whoever they might be) produce oil, gas and “other useful stuff, have “schools and hospitals” and can’t sell women for “a bundle of sable skins” – all thanks to Russian colonial expansion.

I guess one is left to assume that the benefits of 400-plus years of progress would have escaped the indigenous population if it weren’t for the Russians occupation. It’s also strange how putting a stop to selling women for sable skins is brought up as a justification, seeing that rape, enslavement and self-admitted genocidal policies were carried out against the natives, often, and rather ironically, due to the lucrative fur trade.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Serfdom was also being deeply entrenched in Russian society during the same time period, which is to say, Russia was actually moving backwards socially during this period of imperial expansion (legal amendments in 1649 and 1658 made the bulk of Russians slaves in all but name.) So they saved the people from selling their women into slavery so Russians  themselves could sell them into slavery? Right.

The narrator moves on to the Baltics, arguing they were renowned for their high quality radio equipment, cars, famous perfumes and balms during Soviet times.

“I [Russia] was asked to leave them. Now they sell sprats, and part of their people clean toilets in Europe.” 

That the financially robust Baltic states, one of which is projected to reach the economic level of the Nordic countries of Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway by 2025 (and potentially become one of the top five most productive nations in the world) have been relegated to forage fish sellers and European toilet cleaners is frankly odd.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Central Asia is next, and perhaps an easier target given the authoritarianism and wealth inequality that plagues these states for a number of reasons. Seemingly reducing the five republics of the former Soviet bloc to one homogeneous mass, the narrator sidesteps any substantive issues by saying they are now being saddled with US loans and “growing Cannabis” (with the image of a pot leaf quickly being replaced with a white powder I’m assuming is heroine.)

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Apart from the unforeseen possibility that Colorado has outsourced its pot business to Uzbekistan on the back of high interest loans, I’m not really sure what the narrator is getting at. Another contention, that many migrants now work in Russia in often desperate conditions, is true, though to blame them for the macroeconomic conditions that make some states net importers of guest laborers seems ludicrous.

The reductionist approach also belies the fact that Kazakhstan’s GDP per capita is nominally close to Russia’s, providing economic conditions which attract more Central Asian migrants than any other country in the world (apart from its neighbor to the north.) And what, pray tell, do Russia and Kazakhstan have in common? I’ll give you a hint:

In Ukraine, well you guessed it. Once upon a time they built things, and now all they can do is construct “revolution and dictatorship.” 

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

So looking at all of the chaos that’s been unleashed by one of the worst geopolitical disaster’s of the 20th century, the narrator, whoever he is speaking for, is coming out of the closest (no, not that closet!)

“Yes, I’m an occupant, and I’m tired of apologizing for it. I’m an occupant by birthright, an aggressor and a bloodthirsty monster. Be afraid.” 

The video, unsurprisingly, goes on to deride western hypocrisy, parroting the widely held belief that democracy does not exist, before reducing western values to gays, gays, more gays, and Conchita Wurst (as opposed to transparency, the rule of law, the protection of minorities, civil rights and the regular and predictable transition of power through free and fair elections.)

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

“I politely warn you for the last time, don’t mess with me. I build peace, I love peace, but I know how to fight better than anyone else,” the message, which is quickly dispatched to Barack Obama, concludes.


Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Kevin Rothrock from Global Voices contacted the alleged creator of the video, a man going by the name of Evgeny Zhurov. Zhurov is emphatic that the professionally produced video was independently made, saying claims of Kremlin involvement are an absolute “lie.”

“These people want to destroy the ‘myth’ about a guy who works ‘for an idea,’” Zhurov said.“They want to make all my work look like it was part of some government contract.”

I for one believe whoever is behind the video is an ancillary point. That the Kremlin would make (or at the very least finance) such a video in a world of internet troll farms and organized-state hysteria is par for the course. What’s more important is the fact that the maker of this video has his finger on the pulse of contemporary Russia. In line with their educational curriculum, many Russians believe in a reductionist view of history which hinges on external invasions of Russia, but ignores numerous instances of Russian aggression against its own neighbors.

It is within this narrative that the myth of the peaceful but ferocious Russian was born. The revelatory part of the video, of course, is that it couples Russians belief in their peaceful nature with its highly militaristic culture, which revels in the idea of being feared. For those who visit Russia, the obsession with power is stark. Some have likened it to a sublimated prison culture, and even in Soviet times, prisoners themselves called the labor camps the ‘small zones’ and the country itself the ‘big zone.’ And this obsession with power manifests itself in virtually every interaction.

When the face of Russia’s domestic propaganda effort Dmitry Kiselyov warned “Russia can turn the US into radioactive dust” last March, he was speaking directly to the Russian id that can resentfully only find parity with their former Cold War rival in its ability to destroy it (and be destroyed in turn.) Russia is a shadow of its former Soviet incarnation, but due to its nuclear arsenal, it most be feared and respected, or so the logic goes.

I already mentioned its reduction of Western values to one gigantic gay pride parade, though there is something interesting in its interpretation of Soviet History. Russians both view the Soviet Union as a Russian imperialistic project and as a commonwealth of brotherly nations coming together for a utopian vision of the future. Many Russians deftly navigate very convoluted waters in which all of the evils of the Soviet Union are blamed on outside anti-Russian forces (often Jews), while at the same time believing that all of the accomplishments of the Soviet Union were in fact Russian accomplishments.

The videos portrayal of the former Soviet republics and Siberia itself as backwaters that would have been nothing if not for Russia’s beneficent occupation is a widely held belief. Jim Kovpak, an amateur historian and author of the popular blog Russia Without BS, summarized this mentality in an article entitled ‘See, this is why nobody likes you.’

“It goes something like this. Russian wants to rant against some former Soviet nationality. It doesn’t matter if its their ‘Slavic brothers’ like the Ukrainians or non-Slavic nationalities like Uzbeks, Tajiks, or Georgians. With the most condescending and patronizing tone, they remind the target of their rant how great they had it under the USSR, or in the case of this article, the Russian Empire. Typically no distinction is made between the two.  

The story is that Muscovite Russians selflessly endeavored and bled to give these people various “gifts” for which they were ungrateful in 1991. Basically it’s the equivalent of a right-wing American telling black Americans that they should be grateful for slavery, or better said a British person lecturing India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan about how great they had it when they were the jewel of the British Empire. The difference being, however, that in the US or UK views like this are often met with sharp criticism, often all across the political spectrum. In Russia they are mainstream and encouraged,” he wrote.

That these views are mainstream and encouraged is obvious in the stellar popularity of ‘I am a Russian Occupant’, which has gathered over 5 million views and 111k likes in some two weeks. One of the most telling aspects of many Russians is that they are supremacists who are enraged that they might be viewed as inferior, anti-PC bigots who will jump at the slightest mischaracterization of their own people, self-proclaimed lovers of peace who are militarists obsessed with power and respect, patronizing colonialists who are deeply resentful that neighboring nations do not respect the paternalistic yoke.

These contradictions are the source of a great deal of internal strife that manifests itself externally, as the pressure of cognitive dissonance rarely dissipates of its own accord. And often, the psychic fault lines between reality and delusion create tremors in the real world.

It would be easy to dismiss this clip if it weren’t so telling. After all, it is the worldview it depicts (a false belief that it is Russia’s “birthright” to keep their backwards and rebellious children in the fold) that drove the Kremlin to rip Ukraine apart rather than let it choose its own path. Taken in that light, there is nothing funny about ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’ at all.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нетю

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нетю


Stalin Society: The Katyn Massacre

Nazi propaganda poster depicting executions of Polish military officers by the Soviets, with caption in Slovak: "Forest of the dead at Katyn"

Nazi propaganda poster depicting executions of Polish military officers by the Soviets, with caption in Slovak: “Forest of the dead at Katyn”

by Ella Rule
July 2002

At the end of the First World War, the boundary between Russia and Poland was settled as being along a line which became known as the Curzon line – Lord Curzon being the British statesman who had proposed it.

This demarcation line was not to the liking of the Poles, who soon went to war against the Soviet Union in order to push their borders further eastward. The Soviet Union counter-attacked and were prepared not only to defend themselves but, against Stalin’s advice, to liberate the whole of Poland. Stalin considered such an aim to be doomed to failure because, he said, Polish nationalism had not yet run its course. The Poles were determined NOT to be liberated so there was no point in trying. Hence the Poles put up fierce resistance to Soviet advances. Ultimately the Soviet Union was forced to retreat and even cede territory to the east of the Curzon line to Poland. The areas in question were Western Byelorussia and the western Ukraine – areas populated overwhelmingly by Byelorussians and Ukrainians respectively rather than by Poles. The whole incident could not but exacerbate the mutual dislike of the Poles and the Russians.

On 1 September 1939, Nazi German invaded Poland. On 17 September, the Soviet Union moved to reoccupy those parts of Poland that lay east of the Curzon line. Having taken over those areas, the Soviet Union set about distributing land to the peasants and bringing about the kind of democratic reforms so popular with the people and so unpopular with the exploiters. During the battle to retake the areas east of the Curzon line, the Soviet Union captured some 10,000 Polish officers, who became prisoners of war. These prisoners were then held in camps in the disputed area and put to work road building, etc.

Two years later, on 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union by surprise. The Red Army was forced hurriedly to retreat and the Ukraine was taken over by the Germans. During this hurried retreat it was not possible to evacuate to the Soviet interior the Polish prisoners of war. The chief of camp no. 1, Major Vetoshnikov gave evidence that he had applied to the chief of traffic of the Smolensk section of the Western Railway to be provided with railway cars for the evacuation of the Polish prisoners but was told it was unlikely to be possible. Engineer Ivanov, who had been the Chief of Traffic in the region at the time, confirmed there had been no railway cars to spare. “Besides, ” he said, “we could not send cars to the Gussino line, where the majority of the Polish prisoners were, since that line was already under fire”. The result was that, following the Soviet retreat from the area, the Polish prisoners became prisoners of the Germans.

In April 1943, the Hitlerites announced that the Germans had found several mass graves in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk, containing the bodies of thousands of Polish officers allegedly murdered by the Russians.

This announcement was designed to further undermine the co-operation efforts of Poles and Soviets to defeat the Germans. The Russo-Polish alliance was always difficult because the Polish government in exile, based in London, was obviously a government of the exploiting classes. They had to oppose the Germans because of the latter’s cynical takeover of their country for lebensraum. The Soviet Union’s position was that so long as the Soviet Union could retain the land east of the Curzon line, they had no problem with the re-establishment of a bourgeois government in Poland. But the alliance was already in difficulties because the Polish government in exile, headed by General Sikorski, based in London, would not agree to the return of that land. This is in spite of the fact that in 1941 after Hitler invaded Poland, the Soviet Union and the Polish government in exile had not only established diplomatic relations but had also agreed that the Soviet Union would finance “under the orders of a chief appointed by the Polish government-in-exile but approved by the Soviet government ” the formation of a Polish army – this chief being, in the event, the thoroughly anti-Soviet General Anders (a prisoner of the Soviets from 1939). By 25 October 1941 this Army had 41,000 men including 2,630 officers. General Anders, however, eventually refused to fight on the Soviet-German front because of the border dispute between the Soviet Union and Poland, and the Polish army had to be sent elsewhere to fight – i.e., Iran.

Nevertheless, despite the hostility of the Polish government in exile, there was a significant section of Poles resident in the Soviet Union who were not anti-Soviet and did accept the Soviet claim to the territories east of the Curzon line. Many of them were Jewish. These people formed the Union of Polish Patriots which put together the backbone of an alternative Polish government in exile.

The Nazi propaganda relating to the Katyn massacres was designed to make it impossible for the Soviets to have any dealings with the Poles at all. General Sikorski took up the Nazi propaganda with a vengeance, claiming to Churchill that he had a “wealth of evidence”. How he had obtained this “evidence” simultaneously with the German announcement of this supposed Soviet atrocity is not clear, although it speaks loudly of secret collaboration between Sikorski and the Nazis. The Germans had made public their allegations on 13 April. On 16 April the Soviet government issued an official communiqué denying “the slanderous fabrications about the alleged mass shootings by Soviet organs in the Smolensk area in the spring of 1940”. It added:

“The German statement leaves no doubt about the tragic fate of the former Polish prisoners of war who, in 1941, were engaged in building jobs in areas west of Smolensk and who, together with many Soviet people, fell into the hands of the German hangmen after the withdrawal of Soviet troops.”

The Germans had in fabricating their story decided to embellish it with an anti-Semitic twist by claiming to be able to name Soviet officials in charge of the massacre, all of whom had Jewish names. On 19 April Pravda responded:

“Feeling the indignation of the whole of progressive humanity over their massacre of peaceful citizens and particularly of Jews, the Germans are now trying to arouse the anger of gullible people against the Jews. For this reason they have invented a whole collection of ‘Jewish commissars’ who, they say, took part in the murder of the 10,000 Polish officers. For such experienced fakers it was not difficult to invent a few names of people who never existed – Lev Rybak, Avraam Brodninsky, Chaim Fineberg. No such persons ever existed either in the ‘Smolensk section of the OGPU’ or in any other department of the NLVD…”

The insistence of Sikorski in endorsing the German propaganda led to the complete breakdown in relations between the London Polish government in exile and the Soviet government – as to which Goebbels commented in his diary:

“This break represents a one-hundred-per-cent victory for German propaganda and especially for me personally … we have been able to convert the Katyn incident into a highly political question.”

At the time the British press condemned Sikorski for his intransigence:

The Times of 28 April 1943 wrote:

“Surprise as well as regret will be felt by those who have had so much cause to understand the perfidy and ingenuity of the Goebbels propaganda machine should themselves have fallen into the trap laid by it. Poles will hardly have forgotten a volume widely circulated in the first winter of the war which described with every detail of circumstantial evidence, including that of photography, alleged Polish atrocities against the peaceful German inhabitants of Poland.”

What lay at the basis of Sikorski’s insistence that the massacre had been carried out by the Soviets rather than the Germans was the dispute over the territory east of the Curzon line. Sikorski was trying to use the German propaganda to mobilise western imperialism behind Poland’s claim to that territory, to try to force them out of the position, as he saw it, of taking the Soviet Union’s side on the issue of this border dispute.

If one reads bourgeois sources today, they all assert that the Soviet Union was responsible for the Katyn massacre, and they do so with such assurance and consistency that in trying to argue the contrary one feels like a Nazi revisionist trying to deny Hitler’s slaughter of Jews. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Gorbachov was even enrolled on this disinformation campaign and produced material allegedly from the Soviet archives which ‘proved’ that the Soviets committed the atrocity and, of course, that they did so on Stalin’s orders. Well, we know the interest that the Gorbachovs of this world have in demonising Stalin. Their target is not so much Stalin as socialism. Their purpose in denigrating socialism is to restore capitalism and bring lives of luxurious parasitism to themselves and their hangers-on at the cost of mass suffering among the Soviet peoples. Their cynicism matches that of the German Nazis and it is hardly surprising to find them singing from the same hymn sheet.

Bourgeois sources blithely claim that Soviet evidence in support of blaming the Germans for the atrocity was either totally absent or based purely on hearsay evidence of terrorised inhabitants of the region. They don’t mention one piece of evidence which even Goebbels had to admit was a bit of a bummer from his point of view. He wrote in his diary on 8 May 1943,

“Unfortunately, German ammunition has been found in the graves at Katyn … It is essential that this incident remains a top secret. If it were to come to the knowledge of the enemy the whole Katyn affair would have to be dropped. “

In 1971 there was correspondence in The Times suggesting the Katyn massacres could not have been done by the Germans since they went in for machine gunning and gas chambers rather than despatching prisoners in the way the Katyn victims had been killed, i.e., by a shot in the back of the head. A former German solider then living in Godalming, Surrey, intervened in this correspondence:

“As a German soldier, at that time convinced of the righteousness of our cause, I have taken part in many battles and actions during the Russian campaign. I have not been to Katyn nor to the forest nearby. But I well remember the hullabaloo when the news broke in 1943 about the discovery of the ghastly mass grave near Katyn, which area was then threatened by the Red Army.

“Josef Goebbels, as the historic records show, has fooled many people. After all, that was his job and few would dispute his almost complete mastery of it. What is surprising indeed, however, is that it still shows evidence in the pages of The Times thirty odd years later. Writing from experience I do not think that at that late time of the war Goebbels managed to fool many German soldiers in Russia on the Katyn issue … German soldiers knew about the shot in the back of the head all right … we German soldiers knew that the Polish officers were despatched by none other than our own. “

Moreover, very many witnesses came forward to attest to the presence of Polish prisoners in the region after the Germans had taken it over.

Maria Alexandrovna Sashneva, a local primary school teacher, gave evidence to a Special commission set up by the Soviet Union in September 1943, immediately after the area was liberated from the Germans, to the effect that in August 1941, two months after Soviet withdrawal, she had hidden a Polish war prisoner in her house. His name had been Juzeph Lock, and he had spoken to her of ill-treatment suffered by Polish prisoners under the Germans:

“When the Germans arrived they seized the Polish camp and instituted a strict regime in it. The Germans did not regard the Poles as human beings. They oppressed and outraged them in every way. On some occasions Poles were shot without any reason at all. He decided to escape…”

Several other witnesses gave evidence that they had seen the Poles during August and September 1941 working on the roads.

Moreover, witnesses also testified to round-ups by the Germans of escaped Polish prisoners in the autumn of 1941. Danilenko, a local peasant, was among several witnesses who testified to this.

“Special round ups were held in our place to catch Polish war prisoners who had escaped. Some searches took place in my house 2 or 3 times. After one such search I asked the headman .. whom they were looking for in our village. [He] said that an order had been received from the German Kommandatur according to which searches were to be made in all houses without exception, since Polish war prisoners who had escaped from the camp were hiding in our village. “

Obviously the Germans did not shoot the Poles in full sight of local witnesses, but there is nonetheless significant evidence from local people as to what was happening. One witness was Alexeyeva who had been detailed by the headman of her village to serve the German personnel at a country house in the section of the Katyn Forest known as Kozy Gory, which had been the rest home of the Smolensk administration of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs. This house was situated some 700 metres from where the mass graves were found. Alexeyeva said:

“At the close of August and during most of September 1941 several trucks used to come practically every day to the Kozy Gory country house. At first I paid no attention to that, but later I noticed that each time these trucks arrived at the grounds of the country house they stopped for half an hour, and sometimes for a whole hour, somewhere on the country road connecting the country house with the highway. I drew this conclusion because some time after these trucks reached the grounds of the country house the noise they made would cease.

“Simultaneously with the noise stopping single shots would be heard. The shots followed each other at short but approximately even intervals. Then the shooting would die down and the trucks would drive right up to the country house. German soldiers and NCOs came out of the trucks. Talking noisily they went to wash in the bathhouse, after which they engaged in drunken orgies.

“On days when the trucks arrived more soldiers from some German military units used to arrive at the country house. Special beds were put up for them… Shortly before the trucks reached the country house armed soldiers went to the forest evidently to the spot where the trucks stopped because in half an hour they returned in these trucks, together with the soldiers who lived permanently in the country house.

“…On several occasions I noticed stains of fresh blood on the clothes of two Lance Corporals. From all this I inferred that the Germans brought people in the truck to the country house and shot them.”

Alexeyeva also discovered that the people being shot were Polish prisoners.

“Once I stayed at the country house somewhat later than usual… Before I finished the work which had kept me there, a soldier suddenly entered and told me I could go … He … accompanied me to the highway.

“Standing on the highway 150 or 200 metres from where the road branches off to the country house I saw a group of about 30 Polish war prisoners marching along the highway under heavy German escort… I halted near the roadside to see where they were being led, and I saw that they turned towards our country house at Kozy Gory.

“Since by that time I had begun to watch closely everything going on at the country house, I became interested. I went back some distance along the highway, hid in bushes near the roadside, and waited. In some 20 or 30 minutes I heard the familiar single shots. “

The other two requisitioned maids at the country house, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya, gave supporting evidence. Other residents of the area gave similar evidence.

Basilevsky, director of the Smolensk observatory, was appointed deputy burgomeister to Menshagin, a Nazi collaborator. Basilevsky was trying to secure the release from German custody of a teacher, Zhiglinsky, and persuaded Menshagin to speak to the German commander of the region, Von Schwetz, about this matter. Menshagin did so but reported back it was impossible to secure this release because “instructions had been received from Berlin prescribing the strictest regime be maintained. “

Basilevsky then recounted his conversation with Menshagin:

“I involuntarily retorted ‘Can anything else be stricter than the regime existing at the camp?’ Menshagin looked at me in a strange way and bending to my ear, answered in a low voice: yes, there can be! The Russians can at least be left to die off, but as to the Polish war prisoners, the orders say they are to be simply exterminated. “

After liberation Menshagin’s notebook was found written in his own handwriting, as confirmed by expert graphologists. Page 10, dated 15 August 1941, notes:

“All fugitive war prisoners are to be detained and delivered to the commandant’s office. “

This in itself proves the Polish prisoners were still alive at that time. On page 15, which is undated, the entry appears: “Are there any rumours among the population concerning the shooting of Polish war prisoners in Kozy Gory (for Umnov) ” (Umnov was the Chief of the Russian police).

A number of witnesses gave evidence that they had been pressured in 1942-43 by the Germans to give false testimony as to the shooting of the Poles by the Russians.

Parfem Gavrilovich Kisselev, a resident of the village closest to Kozy Gory, testified that he had been summonsed in autumn of 1942 to the Gestapo where he was interviewed by a German officer:

“The officer stated that, according to information at the disposal of the Gestapo, in 1940, in the area of Kozy Gory in the Katyn Forest, staff members of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs shot Polish officers, and he asked me what testimony I could give on this score. I answered that I had never heard of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs shooting people at Kozy Gory, and that anyhow it was impossible, I explained to the officer, since Kozy Gory is an absolutely open and much frequented place, and if shootings had gone on there the entire population of the neighbouring villages would have known …

“…The interpreter, however, would not listen to me, but took a handwritten document from the desk and read it to me. It said that I, Kisselev, resident of a hamlet in the Kozy Gory area, personally witnessed the shooting of Polish officers by staff members of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in 1940.

“Having read the document, the interpreter told me to sign it. I refused to do so… Finally he shouted ‘Either you sign it at once or we shall destroy you. Make your choice.’

“Frightened by these threats, I signed the document and thought that would be the end of the matter. “

But it wasn’t the end of the matter, because the Germans expected Kisselev to give parol evidence of what he had ‘witnessed’ to groups of ‘delegates’ invited by the Germans to come to the area to witness the evidence of supposed Soviet atrocities.

Soon after the German authorities had announced the existence of the mass graves to the world in April 1943,

“the Gestapo interpreter came to my house and took me to the forest in the Kozy Gory area.

“When we had left the house and were alone together, the interpreter warned me that I must tell the people present in the forest everything exactly as I had written it down in the document I had signed at the Gestapo.

“When I came to the forest I saw the open graves and a group of strangers. The interpreter told me that these were Polish delegates who had arrived to inspect the graves. When we approached the graves the delegates started asking me various questions in Russian in connection with the shooting of the Poles, but as more than a month had passed since I had been summoned to the Gestapo I forgot everything that was in the document I had signed, got mixed up, and finally said I didn’t know anything about the shooting of Polish officers.

“The German officer got very angry. The interpreter roughly dragged me away from the ‘delegation’ and chased me off. Next morning a car with a Gestapo officer drove up to my house. He found me in the yard, told me that I was under arrest, put me into the car and took me to Smolensk Prison …

“After my arrest I was interrogated many times, but they beat me more than they questioned me. The first time they summoned me they beat me up heavily and abused me, complaining that I had let them down, and then sent me back to the cell. During the next summons they told me I must state publicly that I had witnessed the shooting of Polish officers by the Bolsheviks, and that until the Gestapo was satisfied I would do this in good faith, I would not be released from prison. I told the officer that I would rather sit in prison than tell people lies to their faces. After that I was badly beaten up.

“There were several such interrogations accompanied by beatings, and as a result I lost all my strength, my hearing became poor and I could not move my right arm. About one month after my arrest a German officer summoned me and said: ‘You see the consequences of your obstinacy, Kisselev. We have decided to execute you. In the morning we shall take you to Katyn Forest and hang you.’ I asked the officer not to do this, and started pleading with them that I was not fit for the part of ‘eye-witness’ of the shooting as I did not know how to tell lies and therefore I would mix everything up again.

“The officer continued to insist. Several minutes later soldiers came into the room and started beating me with rubber clubs. Being unable to stand the beatings and torture, I agreed to appear publicly with a fallacious tale about shooting of Poles by Bolsheviks. After that I was released from prison, on conditions that on the first demand of the Germans I would speak before ‘delegations’ in Katyn Forest…

“On every occasion, before leading me to the graves in the forest, the interpreter used to come to my house, call me out into the yard, take me aside to make sure that no one would hear, and for half an hour make me memorise by heart everything I would have to say about the alleged shooting of Polish officers by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in 1940.

“I recall that the interpreter told me something like this: ‘I live in a cottage in ‘Kozy Gory’ area not far from the country house of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs. In spring 1940 I saw Poles taken on various nights to the forest and shot there’. And then it was imperative that I must state literally that ‘this was the doing of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs.’ After I had memorised what the interpreter told me he would take me to the open graves in the forest and compel me to repeat all this in the presence of ‘delegations’ which came there.

“My statements were strictly supervised and directed by the Gestapo interpreter. Once when I spoke before some ‘delegation’, I was asked the question: ‘Did you see these Poles personally before they were shot by the Bolsheviks?’ I was not prepared for such a question and answered the way it was in fact, i.e., that I saw Polish war prisoners before the war, as they walked on the roads. Then the interpreter roughly dragged me aside and drove me home.

“Please believe me when I say that all the time I felt pangs of conscience, as I knew that in reality the Polish officers had been shot by the Germans in 1941. I had no other choice, as I was constantly threatened with the repetition of my arrest and torture. “

Numerous people corroborated Kisselev’s testimony, and a medical examination corroborated his story of having been tortured by the Germans.

Pressure was also brought on Ivanov, employed at the local railway station (Gnezdovo) to bear false witness:

“The officer inquired whether I knew that in spring 1940 large parties of captured Polish officers had arrived at Gnezdovo station in several trains. I said that I knew about this. The officer then asked me whether I knew that in the same spring 1940, soon after the arrival of the Polish officers, the Bolsheviks had shot them all in the Katyn Forest. I answered that I did not know anything about that, and that it could not be so, as in the course of 1940-41 up to the occupation of Smolensk by the Germans, I had met captured Polish officers who had arrived in spring 1940 at Gnezdovo station, and who were engaged in road construction work.

“The officer told me that if a German officer said the Poles had been shot by the Bolsheviks it meant that this was a fact. ‘Therefore’, the officer continued, ‘you need not fear anything, and you can sign with a clear conscience a protocol saying that the captured Polish officers were shot by the Bolsheviks and that you witnessed it’.

“I replied that I was already an old man, that I was 61 years old, and did not want to commit a sin in my old age. I could only testify that the captured Poles really arrived at Gnezdovo station in spring 1940. The German officer began to persuade me to give the required testimony promising that if I agreed he would promote me from the position of watchman on a railway crossing to that of stationmaster of Gnezdovo station, which I had held under the Soviet Government, and also to provide for my material needs.

“The interpreter emphasised that my testimony as a former railway official at Gnezdovo station, the nearest station to Katyn Forest, was extremely important for the German Command, and that I would not regret it if I gave such testimony. I understood that I had landed in an extremely difficult situation, and that a sad fate awaited me. However, I again refused to give false testimony to the German officer. He started shouting at me, threatened me with a beating and shooting, and said I did not understand what was good for me. However, I stood my ground. The interpreter then drew up a short protocol in German on one page, and gave me a free translation of its contents. This protocol recorded, as the interpreter told me, only the fact of the arrival of the Polish war prisoners at Gnezdovo station. When I asked that my testimony be recorded not only in German but also in Russian, the officer finally went beside himself with fury, beat me up with a rubber club and drove me off the premises…”.

Savvateyev was another person pressurised by the Germans to give false testimony. He told the Soviet Commission of Inquiry:

“In the Gestapo I testified that in spring 1940 Polish war prisoners arrived at the station of Gnezdovo in several trains and proceeded further in trucks, and I did not know where they went. I also added that I repeatedly met those Poles later on the Moscow-Minsk highway, where they were working on repairs in small groups. The officer told me I was mixing things up, that I could not have met the Poles on the highway, as they had been shot by the Bolsheviks, and demanded that I testify to this.

“I refused. After threatening and cajoling me for a long time, the officer consulted with the interpreter about something in German, and then the interpreter wrote a short protocol and gave it to me to sign. He explained that it was a record of my testimony. I asked the interpreter to let me read the protocol myself, but he interrupted me with abuse, ordering me to sign it immediately and get out. I hesitated a minute. The interpreter seized a rubber club hanging on the wall and made to strike me. After that I signed the protocol shoved at me. The interpreter told me to get out and go home, and not to talk to anyone or I would be shot…”

Others gave similar testimony.

Evidence was also given as to how the Germans ‘doctored’ the graves of the victims to try to eliminate evidence that the massacre took place not in the autumn of 1941 but in the spring of 1940 shortly after the Poles first arrived in the area. Alexandra Mikhailovna had worked during the German occupation in the kitchen of a German military unit. In March 1943 she found a Russian war prisoner hiding in her shed:

“From conversation with him I learned that his name was Nikolai Yegorov, a native of Leningrad. Since the end of 1941 he had been in the German camp No. 126 for war prisoners in the town of Smolensk. At the beginning of March 1943, he was sent with a column of several hundred war prisoners from the camp to Katyn Forest. There they, including Yegorov, were compelled to dig up graves containing bodies in the uniforms of Polish officers, drag these bodies out of the graves and take out of their pockets documents, letters, photographs and all other articles.

“The Germans gave the strictest orders that nothing be left in the pockets on the bodies. Two war prisoners were shot because after they had searched some of the bodies, a German officer discovered some papers on these bodies. Articles, documents and letters extracted from the clothing on the bodies were examined by the German officers, who then compelled the prisoners to put part of the papers back into the pockets on the bodies, while the rest was flung on a heap of articles and documents they had extracted, and later burned.

“Besides this, the Germans made the prisoners put in the pockets of the Polish officers some papers which they took from the cases or suitcases (I don’t remember exactly) which they had brought along. All the war prisoners lived in Katyn Forest in dreadful conditions under the open sky, and were extremely strongly guarded… At the beginning of April 1943, all the work planned by the Germans was apparently completed, as for three days not one of the war prisoners had to do any work…

“Suddenly at night all of them without exception were awakened and led somewhere. The guard was strengthened. Yegorov sensed something was wrong and began to watch very closely everything that was happening. They marched for three or four hours in an unknown direction. They stopped in the forest at a pit in a clearing. He saw how a group of war prisoners were separated from the rest and driven towards the pit and then shot. The war prisoners grew agitated, restless and noisy. Not far from Yegorov several war prisoners attacked the guards. Other guards ran towards the place. Yegorov took advantage of the confusion and ran away into the dark forest, hearing shouts and firing.

“After hearing this terrible story, which is engraved on my memory for the rest of my life, I became very sorry for Yegorov, and told him to come to my room, get warm and hide at my place until he had regained his strength. But Yegorov refused… He said no matter what happened he was going away that very night, and intended to try to get through the front line to the Red Army. In the morning, when I went to make sure whether Yegorov had gone, he was still in the shed. It appeared that in the night he had attempted to set out, but had only taken about 50 steps when he felt so weak that he was forced to return. This exhaustion was caused by the long imprisonment at the camp and the starvation of the last days. We decided he should remain at my place several days longer to regain his strength. After feeding Yegorov I went to work. When I returned home in the evening my neighbours Branova, Mariya Ivanovna, Kabanovskaya, Yekaterina Viktorovna told me that in the afternoon, during a search by the German police, the Red Army war prisoner had been found, and taken away. “

Further corroboration was given by an engineer mechanic called Sukhachev who had worked under the Germans as a mechanic in the Smolensk city mill:

“I was working at the mill in the second half of March, 1943. There I spoke to a German chauffeur who spoke a little Russian, and since he was carrying flour to Savenki village for the troops, and was returning on the next day to Smolensk, I asked him to take me along so that I could buy some fats in the village. My idea was that making the trip in a German truck would get over the risk of being held up at the control stations. The German agreed to take me, at a price.

“On the same day at 10 p.m. we drove on to the Somolensk-Vitebsk highway, just myself and the German driver in the machine. The night was light, and only a low mist over the road reduced the visibility. Approximately 22 or 23 kilometres from Smolensk at a demolished bridge on the highway there is a rather deep descent at the by-pass. We began to go down from the highway, when suddenly a truck appeared out of the fog coming towards us. Either because our brakes were out of order, or because the driver was inexperienced, we were unable to bring our truck to a halt, and since the passage was quite narrow we collided with the truck coming towards us. The impact was not very violent, as the driver of the other truck swerved to the side, as a result of which the trucks bumped and slid alongside each other.

“The right wheel of the other truck, however, landed in the ditch, and the truck fell over on the slope. Our truck remained upright. The driver and I immediately jumped out of the cabin and ran up to the truck which had fallen down. We were met by a heavy stench of putrefying flesh coming evidently from the truck.

“On coming nearer, I saw that the truck was carrying a load covered with a tarpaulin and tied up with ropes. The ropes had snapped with the impact, and part of the load had fallen out on the slope. This was a horrible load – human bodies dressed in military uniforms. As far as I can remember there were some six or seven men near the truck: one German driver, two Germans armed with tommy-guns – the rest were Russian war prisoners, as they spoke Russian and were dressed accordingly.

“The Germans began to abuse my driver and then made some attempts to right the truck. In about two minutes time two more trucks drove up to the place of the accident and pulled up. A group of Germans and Russian war prisoners, about ten men in all, came up to us from these trucks. … By joint efforts we began to raise the truck. Taking advantage of an opportune moment I asked one of the Russian war prisoners in a low voice: ‘What is it?’ He answered very quietly: ‘For many nights already we have been carrying bodies to Katyn Forest’.

“Before the overturned truck had been raised a German NCO came up to me and my driver and ordered us to proceed immediately. As no serious damage had been done to our truck the driver steered it a little to one side and got on to the highway, and we went on. When we were passing the two covered trucks which had come up later I again smelled the horrible stench of dead bodies”.

Various other people also gave testimony of having seen the trucks loaded with dead bodies.

One Zhukhov, a pathologist who actually visited graves in April 1943 at the invitation of the Germans, also gave evidence:

“The clothing of the bodies, particularly the greatcoats, boots and belts, were in a good state of preservation. The metal parts of the clothing – belt buckles, button hooks and spikes on shoe soles, etc. – were not heavily rusted, and in some cases the metal still retained its polish. Sections of the skin of the bodies which could be seen – faces, necks, arms – were chiefly a dirty green colour, and in some cases dirty brown, but there was no complete disintegration of the tissues, no putrefaction. In some cases bared tendons of whitish colour and parts of muscles could be seen.

“While I was at the excavations people were at work sorting and extracting bodies at the bottom of a big pit. For this purpose they used spades and other tools, and also took hold of bodies with their hands and dragged them from place to place by the arms, the legs or the clothing. I did not see a single case of bodies falling apart or any member being torn off.

“Considering all the above, I arrived at the conclusion that the bodies had remained in the earth not three years, as the Germans affirmed, but much less. Knowing that in mass graves, and especially without coffins, putrefaction of bodies progresses more quickly than in single graves, I concluded that the mass shooting of the Poles had taken place about a year and a half ago, and could have occurred in autumn 1941 or in spring 1942. As a result of my visit to the excavation site I became firmly convinced that a monstrous crime had been committed by the Germans. “

Several other people who visited the graves at the time gave like testimony.

Moreover, pathologists who examined the bodies in 1943 concluded that they could not have been dead longer than two years. Furthermore, documents were found on some of the bodies which had obviously been missed by the Germans when they doctored the evidence. These included a letter dated September 1940, a postcard dated 12 November 1940, a pawn ticket receipted 14 March 1941 and another receipted 25 March 1941. Receipts dated 6 April 1941, 5 May 1941, 15 May 1941 and an unmailed postcard in Polish dated 20 June 1941. Although all these dates pre-date Soviet withdrawal, they all postdate the time of the alleged murder of the prisoners by the Soviet authorities in the spring of 1940, the time given as the date of the supposed massacre by all those whom the Germans were able to bully into giving false testimony. If, as is claimed by bourgeois propagandists, these documents are forgeries, it would have been the easiest thing to forge documents which postdated the Soviet departure, but his was not done – and it was not done because the documents found were undoubtedly genuine.


Russian propaganda and Ukrainian rumour fuel anger and hate in Crimea

 Russians march in central Moscow. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters SERGEI KARPUKHIN/REUTERS

Russians march in central Moscow. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters SERGEI KARPUKHIN/REUTERS

The Russian media is serving up a crude portrayal of events as a patriotic fight against fascists in Kiev and spurring its own far-right into action

Anyone spending any amount of time in Crimea at the moment will hear the words “Nazi” and “fascist” a lot. The protests in Kiev, people across the region will insist, were a Nazi-inspired revolt, backed by the west, and that is why the Russian operation to “protect” Crimea from such Nazis was so necessary.

Certainly, there were unsavoury elements among the Kiev protests, and there are a number of people with unpleasant far-right views that hold positions in the new interim government. Many people in western Ukraine do hold complicated views about the wartime period, and many in Russia are understandably concerned by the veneration by small parts of the protest movement of controversial collaborationist leaders.

“You Brits don’t understand about fascism but we fought against Nazi Germany,” said a 62-year-old Simferopol resident, Viktor Varazin. “We know what fascism is and we will never let it take hold here. Thank God the Russians are here.”

Russian state television has gone out of its way to manufacture an image of the protests as a uniquely sinister phenomenon; a far-right movement backed by the west with the ultimate goal of destabilising Russia.

Back in December, a Russian state television reporter doing a live report from Kiev was accosted by a protester on air and had an Oscar statuette thrust into his hands. “Pass this Oscar to your channel … for the lies and nonsense you are telling people about Maidan,” he said.

Since then, the rhetoric has only intensified on Russian television. In the last week, there have been claims that gangs of “unknown armed people” have crossed from Ukraine into Russia, without offering any evidence. There have also been suggestions that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian “refugees” have been forced to flee Ukraine for Russia, prompting a humanitarian crisis. (The pictures used by one Russian channel of border queues turned out to be routine queues at a Ukraine-Poland border.)

News programmes regularly refer to the Kiev protesters as “terrorists”, “insurgents” or “fighters”, and the rightwing and anti-Russian nature is emphasised. It is not just Russian media peddling the rumours. Opposition-minded channels in Ukraine have also been full of misinformation, although it is often a case of unverified rumours reported as fact. There was barely a day in January and February when Ukrainian media did not report planeloads of Russian special forces secretly landing in Kiev, or other nefarious but implausible manoeuvres by Viktor Yanukovych.

But perhaps the most disturbing thing about the Russian propaganda is that it is clear that many inside the Kremlin actually believe it. In December, a Russian government source assured the Guardian that the Kiev protests were the preserve of radical marginals, and that the rest of the city had no time at all for its goals.

On Tuesday, Putin conceded that he understood that there were some normal people on Independence Square who were tired of Ukrainian corruption, but there is nevertheless a sense in the Kremlin that the entire protest was a western-backed plot, as evidenced by Putin’s claims that they were organised by “people sitting in America doing experiments, like on rats”.

An insight into the thinking is given by Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-connected analyst and politician, who is in Crimea meeting with local officials. When asked for his view on the Kiev protests, he said: “The plan it seems to me to was very clear. Give Ukraine a Mikheil Saakashvili type leader. Start a big anti-Russian campaign, train the army to Nato standards, fill everyone with anti-Russian ideology, and then throw the Ukrainian army into Russia at a time when a coup is being organised. I haven’t spoken to Putin about it personally, but I am certain he thinks the same.”

On the ground in Crimea, what is particularly odd is that the most vociferous defenders of Russian bases against supposed fascists appear to hold far-right views themselves.

Outside the Belbek airbase, an aggressive self-defence group said they were there to defend the base against “Kiev fascists”, but also railed against Europe, “full of repulsive gays and Muslims”.

“What you foreigners don’t get is that those people in Maidan, they are fascists,” said Alexander, a Simferopol resident drinking at a bar in the city on Monday night. “I mean, I am all for the superiority of the white race, and all that stuff, but I don’t like fascists.”

Even among less radical locals, there is a strong conviction that the western press has lied about the conflict and tension. Journalists have been physically attacked on several occasions, and crowds will frequently berate western reporters for their biased coverage.

“We know you have your orders from your masters to destroy Russia, but try to explain the truth – we welcome the Russians here because we don’t want to live among fascists,” said one angry woman outside a surrounded Ukrainian marines base in Feodosia on Sunday.

For all that state television has been pushing the Nazi comparisons, there is rather less tolerance when the boot is on the other foot. Andrei Zubov, a professor at a top Moscow university linked to the diplomatic service, wrote a column in the respected Vedomosti newspaper on Saturday comparing Putin’s potential annexation of Crimea with the Anschluss of Austria and Nazi Germany in 1938. On Tuesday, he said the university had fired him for the comparison.


Fascists take deputy prime minister and other posts in Ukraine’s new government


Fascist Svoboda activists occupied Kiev city hall in December. Now the party is in government Pic credit: AP

By Tash Shifrin

Fascists are now part of Ukraine’s government. Oleksandr Sych, of the fascist Svoboda party, has been appointed as deputy prime minister of Ukraine.

He will take the post under prime minister Arseniy Yatseniuk of the neo-liberal, conservative Batkivshchyna (“Fatherland”) party.

Sych is one of Svoboda’s 36 MPs and has made a particular name for himself with an attempt to ban all abortions.

Svoboda also has Andriy Mokhnyk as ecology minister and Ihor Shvaik as agriculture minister in the new administration.

A Svoboda MP, Oleg Mokhnytsky, already runs the general prosecutor’s office.

The appointment of fascist ministers by Ukraine’s parliament does not mean that this is a fascist government, nor that Ukraine is now a fascist state.

Coalition of neoliberals and fascists

The new government is in effect a coalition of neoliberals and fascists. This situation has happened before, for example in Italy, where the Alleanza Nazionale – formed from the fascist MSI, the heirs of Mussolini – joined coalition governments under Berlusconi. Former MSI leader Gianfranco Fini held the positions of deputy prime minister and foreign secretary.

The remainder of the new Ukraine government is made up of Fatherland MPs and unelected figures drawn from the Euromaidan movement, plus rear admiral Ihor Tenyukh, a former commander of Ukrainian Navy, as defence minister.

But entry into the government is another huge step forward for fascists in Ukraine. They have made a major breakthrough both in parliament and on the streets as a result of the leading role that fascist organisations have played in the Euromaidan movement.

The nominations for members of the new government announced to the Euromaidan crowds on Kiev’s main square last night also included Andriy Parubiy, the commander of the paramilitary Samooborona, or Self Defence, as the new head of the national security council.

[UPDATE 28 February: Parubiy’s appointment is now confirmed.]

Parubiy and Yarosh

Parubiy is now an MP for the Fatherland party. But he has a fascist past – he was one of the original leaders of the Social-National Party of Ukraine, with current Svoboda boss Oleh Tyahnybok. He later moved to the conservative Our Ukraine party, and then to Fatherland.

The leader of the hardcore nazi Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), Dmytro Yarosh, was also reported to have been nominated as a deputy to Parubiy. The Right Sector’s fighters have been a major component of the Self Defence paramilitaries – but they remained independent of Parubiy’s leadership, with Yarosh as their commander.

It remains unclear whether Yarosh has accepted his nomination, or whether this will go to a parliamentary vote. But, worryingly, the BBC reported that there were calls for Yarosh to be given a government post from the Euromaidan crowd.

Right Sector fighters are more popular with a section of Euromaidan than the traditional parties in Ukraine’s corrupt political system, where a tiny number of super-rich oligarchs pull the strings.

Also in the list of nominees, but so far unconfirmed by parliament, is the appointment of Tetyana Chornovol to head a new anti-corruption bureau. Chornovol is known as a journalist – but her background is in the hardcore nazi UNA-UNSO group, now part of Right Sector, where she was formerly head of its press department.


Svoboda – originally known as the Social-National Party of Ukraine – is fascist. It is allied with the British National Party, Hungary’s Jobbik and the Front National in France.

Like many fascist organisations across Europe, Svoboda dumped its old name and its traditional nazi Wolfsangel logo and formally distanced itself from its paramilitary wing, the Patriots of Ukraine – a strategy that succeeded as it won 10.4% of the votes in the 2012 elections.

Svoboda militants gained respect during Euromaidan, taking initiatives such as the seizure of Kiev’s city hall. They were at the core of the Euromaidan Samooborona or “Self Defence” paramilitaries, making up a significant chunk of its “hundreds”, or squadrons.

Euromaidan has been in effect a mass mobilisation behind the pro-EU faction of the ruling oligarchy. Neither the pro-Europe parties, nor Yanukovych’s pro-Russia Party of Regions has anything to offer Ukraine’s working class.

The new government takes office in Kiev as the armed seizure of Crimea’s government building ratchets up tensions in a deeply divided Ukraine, and the threat of military intervention by Russia has increased massively.


The Truth about Katyn


Nazi propaganda poster. Reads in French: “If the Soviets win the war, Katyn will be everywhere.”

The Truth About Katyn

Report of Special Commission

for Ascertaining and Investigating the Circumstances of the Shooting of Polish Officer Prisoners by the German-Fascist Invaders in the Katyn Forest

The Special Commission for Ascertaining and Investigating the Circumstances of the Shooting of Polish Officer Prisoners by the German-Fascist Invaders in the Katyn Forest (near Smolensk) was set up on the decision of the Extraordinary State Commission for Ascertaining and Investigating Crimes Committed by the German-Fascist Invaders and Their Associates.

The Commission consists of: Member of the Extraordinary State Commission Academician Burdenko (Chairman of the Commission); member of the Extraordinary State Commission Academician Alexei Tolstoy; member of the Extraordinary State Commission the Metropolitan Nikolai; President of the All-Slav Committee, Lt.-Gen. Dundorov; the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Union of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Kolesnikov; People’s Commissar of Education of the Russian S.F.S.R.. Academician Potemkin; the Chief of the Central Medical Administration of the Red Army, Col.-Gen. Smirnov; the Chairman of the Smolensk Regional Executive Committee, Melnikov. To accomplish the task assigned to it the Commission invited the following medico-legal experts to take part in its work: Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R., Director of Scientific Research in the Institute of Forensic Medicine Prozorovsky; the Head of the Faculty of Forensic Medicine at the Second Moscow Medical Institute, Doctor of Medicine Smolyaninov; Senior Staff Scientists of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health of the U.S.S.R. Semenovsky and assistant Professor Shvaikova; Chief Pathologist of the Front, Mayor of Medical Service, Professor Voropayev.

The Special Commission had at its disposal extensive material presented by the member of the Extraordinary State Commission Academician Burdenko, his collaborators, and the medico-legal experts who arrived in Smolensk on September 26, 1943, immediately upon its liberation, and carried out preliminary study and investigation of the circumstances of all the crimes perpetrated by the Germans.

The Special Commission verified and ascertained on the spot that 15 kilometres from Smolensk, along the Vitebsk highway, in the section of the Katyn Forest named “Kozy Gory,” 200 metres to the S.W. of the highway in the direction of the Dnieper, there are graves in which Polish war prisoners shot by the German occupationists were buried.

On the order of the Special Commission, and in the presence of all its members and of the medico-legal experts, the graves were excavated. A large number of bodies clad in Polish military uniform were found in the graves. The total number of bodies, as calculated by the medico-legal experts, is 11,000. The medico-legal experts made detailed examinations of the exhumed bodies and of documents and material evidence discovered on the bodies and in the graves.

Simultaneously with the excavation of the graves and examination of the bodies, the Special Commission examined numerous witnesses among local residents, whose testimony establishes with precision the time and circumstances of the crimes committed by the German occupationists. The testimony of witnesses reveals the following.

The Katyn Forest

The Katyn Forest had for long been the favourite resort of Smolensk people, where they used to rest on holidays. The population of the neighbourhood grazed cattle and gathered fuel in the Katyn Forest. Access to the Katyn Forest was not banned or restricted in any way. This situation prevailed in the Katyn Forest up to the outbreak of war. Even in the summer of 1941 there was a Young Pioneers’ Camp of the Industrial Insurance Board in this forest, and it was not liquidated until July, 1941.

An entirely different regime was instituted in the Katyn Forest after the capture of Smolensk by the Germans. The forest was heavily patrolled. Notices appeared in many places warning that persons entering without special passes would be shot on the spot.

The part of the Katyn Forest named “Kozy Gory” was guarded particularly strictly, as was the area on the bank of the Dnieper, where 700 metres from the graves of the Polish war prisoners, there was a country house – the rest home of the Smolensk Administration of the Peoples’ Commissariat of Internal Affairs. When the Germans arrived this country house was taken over by a German institution named “Headquarters of the 537th Engineering Battalion.”

Polish War Prisoners in Smolensk Area

The Special Commission established that, before the capture of Smolensk by the Germans, Polish war prisoners, officers and men, worked in the western district of the Region; building and repairing roads. These war prisoners were quartered in three special camps named Camp No. 1 O.N., Camp No. 2 O.N., and Camp No. 3 O.N. These camps were located 25-45 kilometres west of Smolensk.

The testimony of witnesses and documentary evidence establish that after the outbreak of hostilities, in view of the situation that arose, the camps could not be evacuated in time and all the Polish war prisoners, as well as some members of the guard and staffs of the camps, fell prisoner to the Germans.

The former Chief of Camp No. 1 O.N., Major of State Security Vetoshnikov, interrupted by the Special Commission, testified: “I was waiting for the order on the removal of the camp, but communication with Smolensk was cut. Then I myself with several staff members went to Smolensk to clarify the situation. In Smolensk I found a tense situation. I applied to the chief of traffic of the Smolensk section of the Western Railway, Ivanov, asking him to provide the camp with railway cars for evacuation of the Polish war prisoners. But Ivanov answered that I could not count on receiving cars. I also tried to get in touch with Moscow to obtain permission to set out on foot, but I failed. By this time Smolensk was already cut off from the camp by the Germans, and did not know what happened to the Polish war prisoners and guards who remained in the camp.”

Engineer Ivanov, who in July 1941 was acting Chief of Traffic of the Smolensk Section of the Western Railway, testified before the Special Commission: “The Administration of Polish War Prisoners’ Camps applied to my office for cars for evacuation of the Poles, but we had none to spare. Besides, we could not send cars to the Gussino line, where the majority of the Polish war prisoners were, since that line was already under fire. Therefore, we could not comply with the request of the Camps Administration. Thus the Polish war prisoners remained in the Smolensk Region.”

The presence of the Polish war prisoners in the camps in the Smolensk Region is confirmed by the testimony of numerous witnesses who saw these Poles near Smolensk in the early months of the occupation up to September 1941 inclusive.

Witness Maria Alexandrovna Sashneva, elementary schoolteacher in the village of Zenkovo, told the Special Commission that in August 1941 she gave shelter in her house in Zenkovo to a Polish war prisoner who had escaped from camp.

“The Pole wore Polish military uniform, which I recognised at once, as during 1940 and 1941 I used to see groups of Polish war prisoners working on the road under guard… I took an interest in the Pole because it turned out that, before being called up, he had been an elementary schoolteacher in Poland. He told me that he had completed normal school in Poland and then studied at some military school and was a Junior Lieutenant of the Reserve. At the outbreak of war between Poland and Germany he was called up and served in Brest-Litovsk, where he was taken prisoner by Red Army units…. He spent over a year in the camp near Smolensk.

“When the Germans arrived they seized the Polish camp and instituted a strict regime in it. The Germans did not regard the Poles as human beings. They oppressed and outraged them in every way. On some occasions Poles were shot without any reason at all. He decided to escape. Speaking of himself, he said that his wife too, was a teacher and that he had two brothers and two sisters….”

On leaving next day the Pole gave his name, which Sashneva put down in a book. In this book, “Practical Studies in Natural History,” by Yagodovsky, which Sashneva handed to the Special Commission, there is a note on the last page: “Juzeph and Sofia Loek. House 25, Ogorodnaya St., town Zamostye.” In the list published by the Germans, under No. 3796 Lt. Juzeph Loek is put down as having been shot at “Kozy Gory” in the Katyn Forest in the spring of 1940. Thus, from the German report, it would appear that Juzeph Loek had been shot one year before the witness Sashneva saw him.

The witness Danilenkov, a peasant of the “Krasnaya Zarya” collective farm of the Katyn Rural Soviet, stated: “In August and September, 1941, when the Germans arrived, I used to meet Poles working on the roads in groups of 15 to 20.”

Similar statements were made by the following witnesses: Soldatenkov, former headman of the village of Borok; Kolachev, a Smolensk doctor; Ogloblin, a priest; Sergeyev, track foreman; Smiryagin, engineer; Moskovskaya, resident of Smolensk; Alexeyev, chairman of a collective farm in the village of Borok; Kutseev, waterworks technician; Gorodetsky, a priest; Brazekina, a bookkeeper; Vetrova, a teacher; Savvateyev, stationmaster at the Gnezdovo station, and others.

Round-Ups of Polish War Prisoners

The presence of Polish war prisoners in the autumn of 1941 in Smolensk districts is also confirmed by the fact that the Germans made numerous round-ups of those war prisoners who had escaped from the camps.

Witness Kartoshkin, a carpenter, testified: “In the autumn of 1941 the Germans not only scoured the forests for Polish war prisoners, but also used police to make night searches in the villages.”

Zakharov, former headman of the village of Novye Bateki, testified that in the autumn of 1941, the Germans intensively “combed” the villages and forests in search of Polish war prisoners. Witness Danilenkov a peasant of the Krasnaya Zarya collective farm, testified: “Special round-ups were held in our place to catch Polish war prisoners who had escaped. Some searches took place in my house two or three times. After one such search I asked the headman, Konstantin Sergeyev, whom they were looking for in our village. Sergeyev said that an order had been received from the German Kommandantur according to which searches were to be made in all houses without exception, since Polish war prisoners who had escaped from the camp were hiding in our village. After some time the searches were discontinued.”

The witness collective farmer Fatkov testified: “Round-ups and searches for Polish war prisoners took place several times. That was in August and September, 1941. After September, 1941, the round-ups were discontinued and no one saw Polish war prisoners anymore.”

Shootings of Polish War Prisoners

The above-mentioned “Headquarters of the 537th Engineering Battalion” quartered in the country house at “Kozy Gory” did not engage in any engineering work. Its activities were a closely guarded secret. What this “headquarters” engaged in, in reality, was revealed by numerous witnesses, including Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya, residents of the village of Borok of the Katyn Rural Soviet.

On the order of the German Commandant of the Settlement of Katyn, they were detailed by the headman of the village of Borok, Soldatenkov, to serve the personnel of “headquarters” at the above-mentioned country house. On arrival in “Kozy Gory” they were told through an interpreter about a number of restrictions;­

They were absolutely forbidden to go far from the country house or to go to the forest to enter rooms without being called and without being, escorted by German soldiers, to remain in the grounds of the country house at night. They were allowed to come to work and leave after work only by a definite route and only escorted by soldiers. This warning was given to Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya, through an interpreter, personally by the Chief of the German Institution, Ober-leutnant Arnes, who for this purpose summoned them one at a time.

As to the personnel of the “headquarters,” Alexeyeva testified: “In the ‘Kozy Gory’ country house there were always about thirty Germans. Their chief was Ober-leutnant Arnes, and his aide was Ober-leutnant Rekst. Here were also a Lieutenant Hott, Sergeant-Major Lumert, N.C.O. in charge of supplies; Rose, his assistant Isikes, Sergeant-Major Grenewski, who was in charge of the power station; the photographer, a corporal whose name I do not remember; the interpreter, a Volga German whose name seems to have been Johann, but I called him Ivan; the cook, a German named Gustav; and a number of others whose names and surnames I do not know.”

Soon after beginning their work, Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya began to notice that “something shady” was going on at the country house.

Alexeyeva testified: “The interpreter warned us several times on behalf of Arnes that we wore to hold our tongues and not chatter about what we saw and heard at the country house. Besides, I guessed from a number of signs that the Germans were engaged in some shady doings at this country house…. At the close of August and during most of September 1941 several trucks used to come practically every day to the ‘Kozy Gory’ country house. At first I paid no attention to that, but later I noticed that each time these trucks arrived at the grounds of the country house they stopped for half-an-hour, and sometimes for a whole hour, somewhere on the country road connecting the country house with the highway. I drew this conclusion because some time after these trucks reached the grounds of the country house the noise they made would cease.

“Simultaneously with the noise stopping, single shots would be heard. The shots followed one another at short but approximately even intervals. Then the shooting would die down and the trucks would drive up right to the country house. German soldiers and N.C.O.s came out of the trucks. Talking noisily they went to wash in the bathhouse, after which they engaged in drunken orgies. On those days a fire was always kept burning in the bathhouse stove.

“On days when the trucks arrived more soldiers from some German military units used to arrive at the country house. Special beds were put up for them in the soldiers’ Casino set up in one of the halls of the country house. On those days many meals were cooked in the kitchen and a double ration of drinks was served with the meals. Shortly before the trucks reached the country house armed soldiers went to the forest evidently to the spot where the trucks stopped, because in half an hour or an hour they returned in these trucks, together with the soldiers who lived permanently in the country house.

“Probably I would not have watched or noticed how the noise of the trucks coming to the country house used to die down and then rise again were it not for the fact that whenever the trucks arrived We (Konakhovskaya, Mikhailova and myself) were driven to the kitchen if we happened to be in the courtyard near the house; and they would not let us out of the kitchen if we happened to be in it. There was also the fact that on several occasions I noticed stains of fresh blood on the clothes of two Lance Corporals. All this made me pay close attention to what was going on at the country house.

“Then I noticed strange intervals in the movement of the trucks and their pauses in the forest. I also noticed that bloodstains appeared on the clothes of the same two men – the Lance Corporals. One of them was tall and red-headed, the other of medium height and fair. From all this I inferred that the Germans brought people in the truck to the country house and shot them. I even guessed approximately where this took place as, when coming to and leaving the country house, I noticed freshly thrown-up earth in several places near the road. The area of this freshly thrown-up earth increased every day. In the course of time the earth in these spots began to look normal.”

In answer to a question put by the Special Commission – what kind of people were shot in the forest near the country house – Alexeyeva replied that they were Polish war prisoners, and in confirmation of her words stated:

“There were days when no trucks arrived at the country house, but even so soldiers left the house for the forest, whence came frequent single shots. On returning the soldiers always took a bath and then drank.

“Another thing happened. Once I stayed at the country house somewhat later than usual. Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya had already left. Before I finished the work which had kept me there, a soldier suddenly entered and told me I could go. He referred to Rose’s order. He also accompanied me to the highway.

“Standing on the highway 150 or 200 metres from where the road branches off to the country house I saw a group of about 30 Polish war prisoners marching along the highway under heavy German escort. I knew them to be Poles because even before the war, and for same time after the Germans came, I used to meet on the highway Polish war prisoners wearing the same uniform with their characteristic four-cornered hats. I halted near the roadside to see where they were being led, and I saw that they turned towards our country house at ‘Kozy Gory.’

“Since by that time I had begun to watch closely everything going on at the country house, I became interested. I went back some distance along the highway, hid in bushes near the roadside, and waited. In some 20 or 30 minutes I heard the familiar single shots. Then everything became clear to me and I hurried home.

“I also concluded that evidently the Germans were shooting Poles not only in the daytime when we worked at the country house, but also at night in our absence. I understood this also from recalling the occasions when all the officers and men who lived in the country house, with the exception of the sentries, woke up late, about noon. On several occasions we guessed about the arrival of the Poles in ‘Kozy Gory’ from the tense atmosphere that descended on the country house…. All the officers left the country house and only a few sentries remained in it, while the Sergeant-Major kept checking up on the sentries over the telephone…”

Mikhailova testified: “In September, 1941, shooting was heard very often in the ‘Kozy Gory’ Forest. At first I took no notice of the trucks, which were closed at the sides and on top and painted green. They used to drive up to our country house always accompanied by N.C.O.’s. Then I noticed that these trucks never entered our garage, and also that they were never unloaded. They used to come very often, especially in September, 1941.

“Among the N.C.O.’s who always sat with the drivers I began to notice one tall one with a pale face and red hair. When these trucks drove up to the country house, all the Germans, as if at a command, went to the bathhouse and bathed for a long time, after which they drank heavily in the country house. Once this tall red-headed German got down from the truck, went to the kitchen and asked for water. When he was drinking the water out of a glass I noticed blood on the cuff of the right sleeve of his uniform.”

Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya witnessed the shooting of two Polish war prisoners who had evidently escaped from the Germans and been caught. Mikhailova testified: “Once Konakhovskaya and I were at our usual work in the kitchen when we heard a noise near the country house. On coming out we saw two Polish-war prisoners surrounded by German soldiers who were explaining something to N.C.O. Rose. Then Ober-Leutnant Arnes came over to them and told Rose something. We hid some distance away, as we were afraid that Rose would beat us up for being inquisitive.

“‘We were discovered, however, and at a signal from Rose the mechanic Grenewski drove us into the kitchen and the Poles away from the country house. A few minutes later we heard shots. The German soldiers and N.C.O. Rose, who soon returned, were engaged in animated conversation. Wanting to find out what the Germans had done to the detained Poles, Konakhovskaya and I came out again. Arnes’ aide, who came out simultaneously with us from the main entrance of the country house, asked Rose something in German, to which the latter answered, also in German: ‘Everything is in order.’ We understood these words because the Germans often used them in their conversation. From all that took place I concluded that these two Poles had been shot.”

Similar testimony was given by Konakhovskaya. Frightened by the happenings at the country house, Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya decided to quit work on some convenient pretext. Taking advantage of the reduction of their “wages” from nine to three marks a month at the beginning of January, 1942, on Mikhailova’s suggestion they did not report for work. In the evening of the same day a car came to fetch them, they were brought to the country house and locked up by way of punishment – Mikhailova for eight days and Alexeyeva and Konakhovskaya for three days each. After they had served their terms all of them were sacked.

While working at the country house Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya had been afraid to speak to each other about what they had observed of the happenings there. But during their arrest, sitting in the cell at night, they shared their knowledge.

At the interrogation on December 24, 1943, Mikhailova testified: “Here for the first time we talked frankly about the happenings at the country house. I told all I knew. It turned out that Konakhovskaya and Alexeyeva also knew these facts but, like myself, had been afraid to discuss them. I learned from them that it was Polish war prisoners the Germans used to shoot at ‘Kozy Gory.’ Alexeyeva said that once in the autumn of 1941, when she was going home from work, she saw the Germans driving a large group of Polish war prisoners into ‘Kozy Gory’ Forest and then she heard shooting.”

Similar testimony was given by Alexeyeva and Konakhovskaya. On comparing notes Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya arrived at the firm conviction that in August and September, 1941, the Germans had engaged on mass shootings of Polish war prisoners at the country house in “Kozy Gory.”

The testimony of Alexeyeva is confirmed by the testimony of her father, Mikhail Alexeyev, whom she told as far back as in the autumn of 1941, during her work at the country house, about her observations of the Germans’ activities at the country house. “For a long time she would not tell me anything,” Mikhail Alexeyev testified, “only on coming home she complained that she was afraid to work at the country house and did not know how to get away. When I asked her why she was afraid she said that very often shooting was heard in the forest. Once she told me in secret that in ‘Kozy Gory’ Forest the Germans were shooting Poles. I listened to my daughter and warned her very strictly that she should not tell anyone else about it, as otherwise the Germans would learn and then our whole family would suffer.”

That Polish war prisoners use to be brought to “Kozy Gory” in small groups of 20 to 30 men escorted by five to seven German soldiers, was also testified by other witnesses interrogated by the Special Commission: Kisselev, peasant of “Kozy Gory” hamlet; Krivozertsev, carpenter of Krasnyi Bor station in the Katyn Forest; Ivanov, former station master at Gnezdovo in the Katyn Forest area; Savvateyev, station master on duty at. the same station; Alexeyev, chairman of a collective farm in the village of Borok; Ogloblin, priest of Kuprino Church, and others. These witnesses also heard shots in the forest at “Kozy Gory.”

Of especially great importance in ascertaining what took place at “Kozy Gory” country house in the autumn of 1941 is the testimony of Professor of Astronomy Bazilevsky, director of the Smolensk Observatory. In the early days of the occupation of Smolensk by the Germans, Professor Bazilevsky was forcibly appointed by the assistant Burgomaster while to the post of Burgomaster they appointed the lawyer Menshagin, who subsequently left together with them, a traitor who enjoyed the special confidence of the German Command and in particular of the Smolensk Kommandant Von Schwetz.

Early in September, 1941, Bazilevsky addressed to Menshagin a request to solicit the Kommandant Von Schwetz for the liberation of the teacher Zhiglinsky from War Prisoners Camp No. 126. In compliance with this request Menshagin approached Von Schwetz and then informed Bazilevsky that his request could not be granted since, according to Von Schwetz, “instructions had been received from Berlin prescribing that the strictest regime be maintained undeviatingly in regard to war prisoners without any slackening.”

“I involuntarily retorted,” witness Bazilevsky testified, ” ‘Can anything be stricter than the regime existing in the camp?’ Menshagin looked at me in a strange way and bending to my ear, answered in a low voice: ‘Yes, there can be! The Russians can at least be left to die off, but as to the Polish war prisoners, the orders say that they are to be simply exterminated.’ ‘How is that? How should it be understood?’ I exclaimed: ‘This should be understood literally. There is such a directive from Berlin,’ answered Menshagin, and asked me ‘for the sake of all that is Holy’ not to tell anyone about this…

“About a fortnight after this conversation with Menshagin, when I was again received by him, I could not keep from asking: ‘What news about the Poles?’ Menshagin hesitated for a little, but then answered: ‘Everything is over with them. Von Schwetz told me that they had been shot somewhere near Smolensk.’ Seeing my bewilderment Menshagin warned me again about the necessity of keeping this affair in the strictest secrecy and then started ‘explaining’ to me the Germans’ policy in this matter. He told me that the shooting of Poles was one link in the general chain of anti-Polish policy pursued by Germany, which became especially marked in connection with the conclusion of the Russo-Polish Treaty.”

Bazilevsky also told the Special Commission about his conversation with the Sonderfuehrer of the 7th Department of the German Kommandant’s Office, Hirschfeld, a Baltic German who spoke good Russian:

“With cynical frankness Hirschfeld told me that the harmfulness and inferiority of the Poles had been proved by history and therefore reduction of Poland’s population would fertilise the soil and make possible an extension of Germany’s living space. In this connection Hirschfeld boasted that absolutely no intellectuals had been left in Poland, as they had all been hanged, shot or confined in camps.”

Bazilevsky’s testimony is confirmed by the witness Yefimov, Professor of Physics, who has been interrogated by the Special Commission and whom Bazilevsky at that time, in the autumn of 1941, told about his conversation with Menshagin.

Documentary corroboration of Bazilevsky’s and Yefimov’s testimony is supplied by notes made by Menshagin in his own hand in his notebook. This notebook, containing 17 incomplete pages, was found in the files of the Smolensk Municipal Board after the liberation of Smolensk by the Red Army. Menshagin’s ownership of the notebook and his handwriting have been confirmed both by Bazilevsky, who knew Menshagin’s hand well, and by expert graphologists.

Judging by the dates in the notebook, its contents relate to the period from early August, 1941, to November of the same year. Among the various notes on economic matters (on firewood, electric power, trade, etc.) there is a number of notes made by Menshagin evidently as a reminder of instructions issued by the German commandant’s office in Smolensk. These notes reveal with sufficient clarity the range of problems with which the Municipal Board dealt as the organ fulfilling all the instructions of the German Command.

The first three pages of the notebook lay down in detail the procedure in organising the Jewish “Ghetto” and the system of reprisals to be applied against the Jews.

Page 10, dated August 15, 1941, contains the following note: “All fugitive Polish war prisoners are to be detained and delivered to the commandant’s office.” Page 15 (undated) contains the entry: “Are there any rumours among the population concerning the shooting of Polish war prisoners in ‘Kozy Gory’ (for Umnov).”

It transpires from the first entry, firstly, that on August 15, 1941, Polish war prisoners were still in the Smolensk area and, secondly, that they were being arrested by the German authorities. The second entry indicates that the German Command, worried by the possibility of rumours about the crime it had committed circulating among the civilian population, issued special instructions for the purpose of checking this surmise. Umnov, mentioned in this entry, was the Chief of the Russian Police in Smolensk during the early months of its occupation.

Beginning of German Provocation

In the winter of 1942-43 the general military situation changed sharply to the disadvantage of the Germans. The military power of the Soviet Union was continually growing stronger. The unity between the U.S.S.R. and her Allies was growing stronger. The Germans resolved to launch a provocation, using for this purpose the crimes they had committed in the Katyn Forest, and ascribing them to the organs of the Soviet authorities. In this way they intended to set the Russians and Poles at loggerheads and to cover up the traces of their own crimes. A priest, Ogloblin, of the village of Kuprino in the Smolensk district, stated:

“After the events at Stalingrad, when the Germans began to feel uncertain, they launched this business. The people started to say that ‘the Germans are trying to mend their affairs.’ Having embarked on the preparation of the Katyn provocation, the Germans first set about looking for witnesses who would, under the influence of persuasion, bribes or threats, give the testimony which the Germans needed. The attention of the Germans was attracted to the peasant Parfen Gavrilovich Kisselev, born in 1870, who lived in the hamlet nearest to the house in ‘Kozy Gory.’ “

Kisselev was summoned to the Gestapo at the close of 1942. Under the threat of reprisals, they demanded of him fictitious testimony alleging that he knew that in the spring of 1940 the Bolsheviks shot Polish war prisoners at the country house of the administration of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in “Kozy Gory.”

Kisselev informed the Commission: “In the autumn of 1942 two policemen came to my house and ordered me to report to the Gestapo at Gnezdovo station. On that same day I went to the Gestapo, which had its premises in a two-storeyed house next to the railway station. In a room there were a German officer and interpreter. The German officer started asking me through the interpreter how long I had lived in that district, what my occupation and my material circumstances were. I told him that I had lived in the hamlet in the area of’ ‘Kozy Gory’ since 1907 and worked on my farm. As to my material circumstances, I said that I had experienced some difficulties since I was old and my sons were at the war.

“After a brief conversation on this subject, the officer stated that, according to information at the disposal of the Gestapo, in 1940, in the area of’ ‘Kozy Gory’ in the Katyn Forest, staff members of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs shot Polish officers, and he asked me what testimony I could give on this score. I answered that I had never heard of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs shooting people at ‘Kozy Gory,’ and that anyhow it was impossible, I explained to the officer, since ‘Kozy Gory’ is an absolutely open and much frequented place, and if shootings had gone on there the entire population of the neighbouring villages would have known.

“The officer told me I must nevertheless give such evidence because he alleged the shootings did take place. I was promised a big reward for this testimony. I told the officer again that I did not know anything about shootings, and that nothing of the sort could have taken place in our locality before the war. In spite of this the officer obstinately insisted on my giving false evidence.

“After the first conversation about which I have already spoken, I was summoned again to the Gestapo in February, 1943. By that time I knew that other residents of neighbouring villages had also been summoned to the Gestapo and that the same testimony they demanded of me had also been demanded of them.

“At the Gestapo the same officer and interpreter who had interrogated me the first time again demanded of me evidence that I had witnessed the shooting of Polish officers, allegedly effected by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in 1940. I again told the Gestapo officer that this was a lie, as before the war I had not heard anything about any shootings, and that I would not give false evidence. The interpreter, however, would not listen to me, but took a handwritten document from the desk and read it to me. It said that I, Kisselev, resident of a hamlet in the ‘Kozy Gory’ area, personally witnessed the shooting of Polish officers by staff members of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in 1940.

“Having read this document, the interpreter told me to sign it. I refused to do so. The interpreter began to force me to do it by abuse and threats. Finally he shouted: ‘Either you sign it at once or we shall destroy you. Make your choice!’

“Frightened by these threats, I signed the document and thought that would be the end of the matter.”

Later, after the Germans had arranged visits to the Katyn graves by various “delegations,” Kisselev was made to speak before a “Polish delegation” which arrived there. Kisselev forgot the contents of the protocol he had signed at the Gestapo, got mixed up, and finally refused to speak. The Gestapo then arrested Kisselev, and, by ruthless beatings, in the course of six weeks again obtained his consent to “public speeches.”

In this connection Kisselev stated: “In reality things went quite a different way. In spring, 1943, the Germans announced that in the “Kozy Gory” area in Katyn Forest they had discovered the graves of Polish officers allegedly shot in 1940by organs of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs. Soon after that the Gestapo interpreter cattle to my house and took me to the forest in the “Kozy Gory” area.

“When we had left the house and were alone together, the interpreter warned me that I must tell the people present in the forest everything exactly as it was written down in the document I had signed at the Gestapo.

“When I came into the forest I saw open graves and a group of strangers. The interpreter told me that these were ‘Polish delegates’ who had arrived to inspect the graves. When we approached the graves the ‘delegates’ started asking me various questions in Russian in connection with the shooting of Poles, but as more than a month had passed since I had been summoned to the Gestapo I forgot everything that was in the document I had signed, got mixed up, and finally said I did not know anything about the shooting of Polish officers.

“The German officer got very angry. The interpreter roughly dragged me away from the ‘delegation’ and chased me off. Next morning a car with a Gestapo officer drove up to my house. He found me in the yard, told me that I was under arrest, put me into the car and took me to Smolensk Prison…

“After my arrest I was interrogated many times, but they beat me more than they questioned me. The first time they summoned me they beat me up heavily and abused me, complaining that I had let them down, and then sent me back to the cell. During the next summons they told me I must state publicly that I had witnessed the shooting of Polish officers by the Bolsheviks, and that until the Gestapo was satisfied I would do this in good faith I would not be released from prison. I told the officer that I would rather sit in prison than tell people lies to their faces. After that I was badly beaten up.

“There were several such interrogations accompanied by beatings, and as a result I lost all my strength, my hearing became poor and I could not move my right arm. About one month after my arrest a German officer summoned me and said: ‘You see the consequences of your obstinacy, Kisselev. We have decided to execute you. In the morning we shall take you to Katyn Forest and hang you.’ I asked the officer not to do this, and started pleading with him that I was not fit for the part of ‘eye-witness’ of the shooting as I did not know how to tell lies and therefore I would mix everything up again.

“The officer continued to insist. Several minutes later soldiers came into the room and started beating me with rubber clubs. Being unable to stand the beatings and torture, I agreed to appear publicly with a fallacious tale about shooting of Poles by Bolsheviks. After that I was released from prison on condition that on the first demand of the Germans I would speak before ‘delegations’ in Katyn Forest…

On every occasion, before leading me to the graves in the forest, the interpreter; used to come to my house, call me out into the yard, take me aside to make sure that no one would hear, and for half an hour make me memorise by heart everything I would have to say about the alleged shooting of Polish officers by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in 1940.

“I recall that the interpreter told me something like this: ‘I live in a cottage in ‘Kozy Gory’ area not far from the country house of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs. In spring 1940 I saw Poles taken on various nights to the forest and shot there.’ Andthen it was imperative that I must state literally that “this was the doing of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs.” After I had memorised what the interpreter told me, he would take me to the open graves in the forest and compel me to repeat all this in the presence of ‘delegations’ which came there.

“My statements were strictly supervised and directed by the Gestapo interpreter. Once when I spoke before some ‘delegation’ I was asked the question: ‘Did you see these Poles personally before they were shot by the Bolsheviks?’ I was not prepared for such a question and answered the way it was in fact, i.e., that I saw Polish war prisoners before the war, as they worked on the roads. Then the interpreter roughly dragged me aside and drove me home.

“Please believe me when I say that all the time I felt pangs of conscience, as I knew that in reality the Polish officers had been shot by the Germans in 1941. I had no other choice, as I was constantly threatened with the repetition of my arrest and torture.”

Kisselev’s testimony regarding his summons to the Gestapo, subsequent arrest and beatings are confirmed by his wife Aksinya Kisseleva, born 1870, his son Vassily Kisselev, born 1911, and his daughter-in-law Mariya Kisseleva, born 1918, who live with him, as well as by track foreman Timofey Sergeyev, born 1901, who rents a room in Kisselev’s hamlet. The injuries caused to Kisselev at the Gestapo (injury of shoulder, considerable impairment of hearing) are confirmed by a protocol of medical examination.

In their search for “witnesses” the Germans subsequently became interested in railway workers at the Gnezdovo station, two and half kilometres from “Kozy Gory,” the station at which the Polish prisoners arrived in spring 1940. The Germans evidently wanted to obtain corresponding testimony from the railwaymen. For this purpose, in spring 1943, the Germans summoned to the Gestapo the ex-stationmaster of Gnezdovo station, Ivanov, the stationmaster on duty, Savvateyev, and others.

Ivanov, born in 1882, gave the following account of the circumstances in which he was summoned to the Gestapo: “It was in March 1943. I was interrogated by a German officer in the presence of an interpreter. Having asked me through the interpreter who I was and what post I held at Gnezdovo station before the occupation of the district by the Germans, the officer inquired whether I knew that in spring 1940 large parties of captured Polish officers had arrived at Gnezdovo station in several trains. I said that I knew about this, The officer then asked me whether I knew that in the same spring 1940, soon after the arrival of the Polish officers, the Bolsheviks had shot them all in the Katyn Forest. I answered that I did not know anything about that, and that it could not be so, as in the course of 1940-41, up to the occupation of Smolensk by the Germans, I had met captured Polish officers who had arrived in spring 1940 at Gnezdovo station, and who were engaged in road construction work.

“The officer told me that if a German officer said the Poles had been shot by the Bolsheviks it meant that this was the fact. ‘Therefore,’ the officer continued, ‘you need not fear anything, and you can sign with a clear conscience a protocol saying that the captured Polish officers were shot by the Bolsheviks and that you witnessed it.’’

“I replied that I was already an old man, that I was 61 years old, and did not want to commita sin in my old age. I could only testify that the captured Poles really arrived at Gnezdovo station in spring 1940. The German officer began to persuade me to give the required testimony promising that if I agreed he would promote me from the position of watchman on a railway crossing to that of stationmaster of Gnezdovo station, which I had held under the Soviet Government, and also to provide for my material needs.

“The interpreter emphasised that my testimony as a former railway official at Gnezdovo station, the nearest station to Katyn Forest, was extremely important for the German Command, and that I would not regret it if I gave such testimony. I understood that I had landed in an extremely difficult situation, and that a sad fate awaited me. However, I again refused to give false testimony to the German officer. He started shouting at me, threatened me with beating and shooting, and said I did not understand what was good for me. However, I stood my ground. The interpreter then drew up a short protocol in German on one page, and gave me a free translation of its contents. This protocol recorded, as the interpreter told me, only the fact of the arrival of the Polish war prisoners at Gnezdovo station. When I asked that my testimony be recorded not only in German but also in Russian, the officer finally went beside himself with fury, beat me up with a rubber club and drove me off the premises….”

Savvateyev, born in 1880, stated: “In the Gestapo I testified that in spring 1940 Polish war prisoners arrived at the station of Gnezdovo in several trains and proceeded further in trucks, and 1 did not know where they went. I also added that I repeatedly met these Poles later on the Moscow-Minsk highway, where they were working on repairs in small groups. The officer told me. I was mixing things up, that I could not have the Poles on the highway, as they had been shot by the Bolsheviks, and demanded that I testify to this.

“I refused. After threatening and cajoling me for a long time, the officer consulted with the interpreter about something in German, and then the interpreter wrote a short protocol and gave it to me to sign. He explained that it was a record of my testimony. I asked the interpreter to let me read the protocol myself, but he interrupted me with abuse, ordering me to sign it immediately and get out. I hesitated a minute. The interpreter seized a rubber club hanging on the wall and made to strike me. After that I signed the protocol shoved at me: The interpreter told me to get out and go home, and not to talk to anyone or I would be shot.

The search for “witnesses” was not limited to the above-mentioned persons. The Germans strove persistently to locate former employees of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs and extort from them the false testimony which the Germans needed.

Having chanced to arrest Ignatyuk, formerly a labourer in the garage of the Smolensk Regional Administration of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs, the Germans stubbornly, by threats and beatings, tried to extort from him testimony that he had been a car driver and not merely a labourer in the garage, and had himself driven Polish war prisoners to the shooting site.

Ignatyuk, born in 1903, testified in this connection: “When I was examined for the first time by Chief of Police Alferchik, he accused me of agitating against the German authorities, and asked what work I had done for the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs. I replied that I had worked in the garage of the Smolensk Regional Administration of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs as a labourer. At this examination Alferchik tried to get me to testify that I had worked as a car driver and not as a labourer. Alferchik was greatly irritated by his failure to obtain the required testimony from me, and he and his aide, whom he called George, tied up my head and mouth with some rag, removed my trousers, laid me on a table and began to beat me with rubber clubs.

“After that I was summoned again for examination, and Alferchik demanded that I give him false testimony to the effect that the Polish officers had been shot in Katyn Forest by organs of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs in 1940, of which I allegedly was aware, as a chauffeur who had taken part in driving the Polish officers to Katyn Forest, and who had been present at their shooting. Alferchik promised to liberate me from prison if I would agree to give such testimony, and get me a job with the police where I would be given good living conditions – otherwise they would shoot me…

“The last time I was interrogated in the police station by examiner Alexandrov, who demanded from me the same false testimony about the shooting of the Polish officers as Alferchik, but at this examination, too, I refused to give false evidence. After this examination I was again beaten up and sent to the Gestapo… In the Gestapo; just as at the police station, they demanded from me false evidence about the shooting of the Polish officers in Katyn Forest in 1940 by Soviet authorities, of which I as car driver was allegedly aware.”

A book published by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and containing material about the “Katyn Affair” fabricated by the Germans, refers to other “witnesses” besides the above-mentioned Kisselev: Godesov (alias Godunov) born in 1877, Grigori Silversov, born in 1891, Ivan Andreyev, born in 1917, Mikhail Zhigulev, born in 1915, Ivan Krivozertsev, born in 1915, and Matvey Zakharov, born in 1893.

A check-up revealed that the first two of the above persons (Godesov and Silversov) died in 1943 before the liberation of the Smolensk Region by the Red Army; the next three (Andreyev, Zhigulev and Krivozertsev) left with the Germans, or perhaps were forcibly abducted by them, while the last – Matvey Zakharov – formerly a coupler at Smolensk Station, who worked under the Germans as headman in the village Novye Bateki, was located and examined by the Special Commission.

Zakharov related how the Germans got from him the false testimony they needed about the “Katyn affair”: “Early in March, 1943, an employee of the Gnezdovo Gestapo whose name I do not know came to my house and told me that an officer wanted to see me. When I arrived at the Gestapo a German officer told me through an interpreter: ‘We know you worked as coupler at Smolensk Central Station and you must testify that in 1940 cars with Polish war prisoners passed through Smolensk on the way to Gnezdovo, after which the Poles were shot in the forest at ‘Kozy Gory.’ ’ In reply I stated that in 1940 cars with Poles did pass Smolensk westwards, but I did not know what their destination was.

“The officer told me that if I did not want to testify of my own accord he would force me to do so. After saying this he took a rubber club and began to beat me up. Then I was laid on a bench and the officer, together with the interpreter, beat me. I do not remember how many strokes I had, because I soon fainted.

“When I came to, the officer demanded that I sign a protocol of the examination. I had lost courage as a result of the beating and threats of shooting, so I gave false evidence and signed the protocol. After I had signed the protocol I was released from the Gestapo.

“Several days after I had been summoned to the Gestapo, approximately in mid-March, 1943, the interpreter came to my house and said I must go to the German general and confirm my testimony in his presence. The general asked me whether I confirmed my testimony. I said I did confirm it, as on the way I had been warned by the interpreter that if I refused to confirm the testimony I would have a much worse experience than I had on my first visit to the Gestapo.

“Fearing a repetition of the torture, I replied that I confirmed my testimony. Then the interpreter ordered me to raise my right hand, and told me I had taken an oath and could go home.”

It has been established that in other cases also the Germans used persuasion, threats and torture in trying to obtain the testimony they needed, for example, from Kaverznev, former deputy chief of the Smolensk Prison, and Kovalev, former staff member of the same prison. Since the search for the required number of witnesses failed to yield any success, the Germans posted up in Smolensk city and neighbouring villages the following handbill, an original of which is on the files of the Special Commission:

“Notice to the population. Who can give information concerning the mass murder of prisoners, Polish officers and priests by the Bolsheviks in the forest of’ ‘Kozy Gory’ near the Gnezdovo-Katyn highway in 1940? Who saw columns of trucks on their way from Gnezdovo to ‘Kozy Gory,’ or who saw or heard the shootings? Who knows residents who can tell about this! Rewards will be given for any information. Information to be sent to Smolensk, German Police Station, No. 6, Muzeinaya Street, and in Gnezdovo to the German Police Station, house No. 105 near the railway station. Foss, Lieutenant of Field Force, May 3, 1943.”

A similar notice was printed in the newspaper “Novy Put,” published by the Germans in Smolensk – No. 35 (157) for May 6, 1943.

The fact that the Germans promised rewards for the evidence they needed on the”Katyn affair” was confirmed by witnesses called by the Special Commission: Sokolova, Pushchina, Bychkov, Tondarev, Ustinov and many other residents of Smolensk.

Preparing Katyn Graves

Along with the search for “witnesses” the Germans proceeded with the preparation of the graves in Katyn Forest: they removed from the clothing of the Polish prisoners whom they had killed all documents dated later than April, 1940 – that is, the time when, according to the German provocational version, the Poles were shot by the Bolsheviks – and removed all material evidence which could disprove this provocational version. In its investigation the Special Commission revealed that for this purpose the Germans used up to 500 Russian war prisoners specially selected from war prisoners’ camp No. 126.

The Special Commission has at its disposal numerous statements of witnesses on this matter. The evidence of the medical personnel of the above-mentioned camp merits special attention. Dr. Chizhov, who worked in camp No. 126 during the German occupation of Smolensk, testified:

“Just about the beginning of March 1943 several groups of the physically stronger war prisoners, totalling about 500, were sent from the Smolensk Camp No. 126 ostensibly for trench work. None of these prisoners ever returned to the camp.”

Dr. Khmurov, who worked in the same camp under the Germans, testified:

“I know that somewhere about the second half of February or the beginning of March, 1943, about 500 Red Army men prisoners were sent from our camp to a destination unknown to me. The prisoners were apparently to be use for trench digging, for the more physically fit men were selected…”

Identical evidence was given by medical nurse Lenkovskaya, medical nurse Timofeyeva, and witnesses Orlova, Dobroserdova and Kochetkov.

The testimony of Moskovskaya made it clear where the 500 war prisoners from Camp 126 were actually sent. On October 5, 1943, the citizen Moskovskaya, Alexandra Mikhailovna, who lived on the outskirts of Smolensk and had worked during the occupation in the kitchen of a German military unit, filed an application to the Extraordinary Committee for the Investigation of Atrocities Perpetuated by the German Invaders, requesting them to summon her to give important evidence. She told the Special Commission that before leaving for work in March, 1943, when she went to fetch firewood from her shed in the yard on the banks of the Dnieper, she discovered there an unknown person who proved to be a Russian war prisoner.

Moskovskaya, who was born in 1922, testified:

“From conversation with him I learned that his name was Nikolai Yegorov, a native of Leningrad. Since the end of 1941 he had been in the German camp No. 126 for war prisoners in the town of Smolensk. At the beginning of March 1943, he was sent with a column of several hundred war prisoners from the camp to Katyn Forest. There they, including Yegorov, were compelled to dig up graves containing bodies in the uniforms of Polish officers, drag these bodies out of the graves and take out of their pockets documents, letters, photographs and all other articles.

“The Germans gave the strictest orders that nothing be left in the pockets on the bodies. Two war prisoners were shot because after they had searched some of the bodies, a German officer discovered some papers on these bodies. Articles, documents and letters extracted from the clothing on the bodies were examined by the German officers, who then compelled the prisoners to put part of the papers back into the pockets on the bodies, while the rest was flung on a heap of articles and documents they had extracted, and later burned.

“Besides this, the Germans made the prisoners put into the pockets of the Polish officers some papers which they took from the cases or suitcases (I don’t remember exactly) which they had brought along. All the war prisoners lived in Katyn Forest in dreadful conditions under the open sky, and were extremely strongly guarded…. At the beginning of April 1943, all the work planned by the Germans was apparently completed, as for three days not one of the war prisoners had to do any work….

“Suddenly at night all of them without exception were awakened and led somewhere. The guard was strengthened. Yegorov sensed something was wrong and began to watch very closely everything that was happening. They marched for three or four hours in an unknown direction. They stopped in the forest at a pit in a clearing. He saw how a group of war prisoners were separated from the rest and driven towards the pit and then shot. The war prisoners grew agitated, restless and noisy. Not far from Yegorov several war prisoners attacked the guards. Other guards ran towards the place. Yegorov took advantage of the confusion and ran away into the dark forest, hearing shouts and firing.

“After hearing this terrible story, which is engraved on my memory for the rest of my life, I became very sorry for Yegorov, and told him to come to my room, get warm and hide at my place until he had regained his strength. But Yegorov refused…. He said no matter what happened he was going away that very night, and intended to try to get through the front line to the Red Army. In the morning, when I went to make sure whether Yegorov had gone, he was still in the shed. It appeared that in the night he had attempted to set out, but had only taken about 50 steps when he felt so weak that he was forced to return. This exhaustion was caused by the long imprisonment at the camp and the starvation of the last days. We decided he should remain at my place several days longer to regain his strength. After feeding Yegorov I went to work. When I returned home in the evening my neighbours Baranova, Mariya Ivanovna, Kabanovskaya, Yekaterina Viktorovna told me that in the afternoon, during a search by the German police, the Red Army war prisoner had been found, and taken away.”

As a result of the discovery of the war prisoner Yegorov in the shed, Moskovskaya was called to the Gestapo, where she was accused of hiding a war prisoner. At the Gestapo interrogation Moskovskaya stoutly denied that she had any connection with this war prisoner, maintaining she knew nothing about his presence in her shed. Since they got no admission from Moskovskaya, and also because the war prisoner Yegorov evidently had not incriminated Moskovskaya, she was let out of the Gestapo.

This same Yegorov told Moskovskaya that as well as excavating bodies in Katyn Forest, the war prisoners were used to bring bodies to the Katyn Forest from other places.

The bodies so brought were thrown into pits along with the bodies that had been dug up earlier. The fact that a great number of bodies of people shot by the Germans in other places were brought to the Katyn graves is confirmed also by the testimony of engineer mechanic K. S. Sukhachev, born in 1912, an engineer mechanic of the “Rosglavkhleb” combine, who worked under the Germans as a mechanic in the Smolensk city mill. On October 8, 1943, he filed a request that he be called to testify. Called before the Special Commission, he stated:

“I was working at the mill in the second half of March, 1943. There I spoke to a German chauffeur who spoke a little Russian, and since he was carrying flour to Savenki village for the troops, and was returning on the next day to Smolensk, I asked him to take me along so that I could buy some fats in the village. My idea was that making the trip in a German truck would get over the risk of being held up at the control stations. The German agreed to take me, at a price.

“On the same day at 10 p.m. we drove on to the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway, just myself and the German driver in the machine. The night was light, and only a low mist over the road reduced the visibility. Approximately 22 or 23 kilometres from Smolensk at a demolished bridge on the highway there is a rather deep descent at the by-pass. We began to go down from the highway, when suddenly a truck appeared out of the fog coming towards us. Either because our brakes were out of order, or because the driver was inexperienced, we were unable to bring our truck to a halt, and since the passage was quite narrow we collided with the truck coming towards us. The impact was not very violent, as the driver of the other truck swerved to the side, as a result of which the trucks bumped and slid alongside each other.

“The right wheel of the other truck, however, landed in the ditch, and the truck fell over on the slope. Our truck remained upright. The driver and I immediately jumped out of the cabin and ran up to the truck which had fallen down. We were met by a heavy stench of putrefying flesh coming evidently from the truck.”

“On coming nearer, I saw that the truck was carrying a load covered with a tarpaulin and tied up with ropes. The ropes had snapped with the impact, and part of the load had fallen out on the slope. This was a horrible load – human bodies dressed in military uniforms. As far as I can remember there were some six or seven men near the truck: one German driver, two Germans armed with tommy-guns – the rest were Russian war prisoners, as they spoke Russian and were dressed accordingly.

“The Germans began to abuse my driver and then made some attempts to right the truck. In about two minutes time two more trucks drove up to the place of the accident and pulled up. A group of Germans and Russian war prisoners, about ten men in all, came up to us from these trucks…. By joint efforts we began to raise the truck. Taking advantage of an opportune moment I asked one of the Russian war prisoners in a low voice: ‘What is it?’ He answered very quietly: ‘For many nights already we have been carrying bodies to Katyn Forest.’

“Before the overturned truck had been raised a German N.C.O. came up to me and my driver and ordered us to proceed immediately. As no serious damage had been done to our truck the driver steered it a little to one side and got on to the highway, and we went on. When we were passing the two covered trucks which had come up later I again smelled the horrible stench of dead bodies.”

Sukhachev’s testimony is confirmed by that of Vladimir Afanasievich Yegorov, who served as policeman in the Police Station during the occupation. Yegorov testified that when owing to the nature of his duties he was guarding a bridge at a crossing of the Moscow-Minsk and Smolensk-Vitebsk highways at the end of March and early in April, 1943, he saw going towards Smolensk on several nights big trucks covered with tarpaulins and spreading a heavy stench of dead flesh. Several men, some of whom were armed and were undoubtedly Germans, sat in the driver’s cabin of each truck, and behind.

Yegorov reported his observations to Kuzma Demyanovich Golovney, Chief of the Police Station in the village of Arkhipovka, who advised him to “hold his tongue” and added: “This does not concern us. We have no business to be mixing in German affairs.”

That the Germans were carrying bodies on trucks to the Katyn Forest is testified by Frol Maximovich Yalovlev-Sokolov (born in 1896), a former agent for restaurant supplies in the Smolensk Restaurant Trust and, under the Germans, Chief of Police of Katyn. He stated that once, early in April, 1943, he himself saw four tarpaulin-covered trucks passing along the highway to Katyn Forest. Several men armed with tommy-guns and rifles rode in them. An acrid stench of flesh came from these trucks.

From the above testimony it can be concluded with all clarity that the Germans shot Poles in other places too. In bringing their bodies to the Katyn Forest they pursued a triple object: firstly to destroy the traces of their own crimes, secondly to ascribe their own crimes to the Soviet Government, thirdly to increase the number of “victims of Bolshevism” in the Katyn Forest graves.

Excursions to the Katyn Graves

In April, 1943, having finished all the preparatory work at the graves in Katyn Forest, the German occupationists began a wide campaign in the Press and over the radio in an attempt to ascribe to the Soviet Power atrocities they themselves had committed against Polish war prisoners. As one method of provocational agitation, the Germans arranged visits to the Katyn graves by residents of Smolensk and its suburbs as well as “delegations” from countries occupied by the German invaders or their vassals. The Special Commission questioned a number of delegates who took part in the “excursions” to the Katyn graves.

Zhukov, a doctor specialising in pathological anatomy who worked as Medico-Legal Expert in Smolensk, testified before the Special Commission: “The clothing of the bodies, particularly the greatcoats, boots and belts, were in a good state of preservation. The metal parts of the clothing – belt buckles, button hooks and spikes on shoe soles, etc. – were not heavily rusted, and in some cases the metal still retained its polish. Sections of the skin of the bodies which could be seen – faces, necks, arms – were chiefly a dirty green colour, and in some cases dirty brown, but there was no complete disintegration of the tissues, no putrefaction. In some cases bared tendons of whitish colour and parts of muscles could be seen.

“While I was at the excavations people were at work sorting and extracting bodies at the bottom of a big pit. For this purpose they used spades and other tools, and also took hold of bodies with their hands and dragged them from place to place by the arms, the legs or the clothing. I did not see a single case of bodies falling apart or of any member being torn off.

“Considering all the above, I arrived at the conclusion that the bodies had remained in the earth not three years, as the Germans affirmed, but much less. Knowing that in mass graves, and especially without coffins, putrefaction of bodies progresses more quickly than in single graves, I concluded that the mass shooting of the Poles had taken place about a year and a-half ago, and could have occurred in autumn 1941 or in spring, 1942. As a result of my visit to the excavation site I became firmly convinced that a monstrous crime had been committed by the Germans.”

Testimony to the effect that the clothing of the bodies, its metal parts, shoes and even the bodies themselves were well preserved was given by numerous witnesses who took part in “excursions” to the Katyn graves and who were questioned by the Special Commission. These witnesses include the manager of the Smolensk Water Supply System, Kitzev; a Katyn school teacher, Vetrova; a telephone operator of Smolensk Communications Bureau, Shchedrova; a resident of the village of Borok, Alexeyev; a resident of the village of Novye Bateki, Krivozertsev; the stationmaster on duty at Gnezdovo station, Savvateyev; a citizen of Smolensk, Pushchina; a doctor at the Second Smolensk Hospital, Sidoruk; Kesserev, a doctor at the same hospital.

Germans Attempt To Cover Up Traces of Their Crimes

The “excursions” organised by the Germans failed to achieve their aim. All who visited the graves saw for themselves that they were confronted with the crudest and most obvious German-Fascist frame-up. The German authorities accordingly took steps to make the doubters keep quiet. The Special Commission heard the testimony of a great number of witnesses who related how the German authorities persecuted those who doubted or disbelieved the provocation. These doubters were discharged from work, arrested, threatened with shooting.

The Commission established that in two cases people were shot for failure to “hold their tongues.” Such reprisals were taken against the former German policeman Zagainev, and against Yegorov, who worked on the excavation of graves in Katyn Forest. Testimony about the persecution of people who expressed doubt after visiting the graves in Katyn Forest was given by Zubareva, a woman cleaner employed by Drug Store No. 1 in Smolensk; Kozlova, assistant sanitation doctor of Stalin District Health Department in Smolensk, and others.

Yakovlev-Sokolov, former Chief of Police of Katyn area, testified: “A situation arose which caused serious alarm in the German Commandant’s Office, and police organs in the periphery were given urgent instructions to nip in the bud all harmful talk at any price, and arrest all persons who expressed disbelief in the ‘Katyn affair.’ I myself, as chief of the area police, was given instructions to this effect at the end of May 1943 by the German commandant of the village of Katyn, Oberleutnant Braung, and at the beginning of June by the chief of Smolensk District Police, Kamensky.

“I called an instructional conference of the police in my area, at which I ordered the police to detain and bring to the police station anyone who expressed disbelief or doubted the truth of German reports about the shooting of Polish war prisoners by the Bolsheviks. In fulfilling these instructions of the German authorities I clearly acted against my conscience, as I myself was certain that the ‘Katyn affair’ was a German frame-up. I became finally convinced of that when I myself made an ‘excursion’ to Katyn Forest.”

Seeing that the summer 1943 “excursions” of the local population to the Katyn graves did not achieve their purpose, the German occupation authorities ordered the graves to be filled in. Before their retreat from Smolensk they began hastily to cover up the traces of their crimes. The country house occupied by the “H.Q. of the 537th Building Battalion” was burned to the ground.

The Germans searched for the three girls Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya – In the village of Borok in order to take them away and perhaps to kill them. They also searched for their main “witness,” Kisselev, who together with his family had succeeded in hiding. The Germans burned down his house. They endeavoured to seize other “witnesses” too – the former stationmaster of Gnezdovo, Ivanov, and the former acting stationmaster of the same station, Savvateyev, as well as the former coupler at the Smolensk station, Zakharov.

During the very last days before their retreat from Smolensk, the German-Fascist occupationists looked for Professors Bazilevsky and Yefimov. Both succeeded in evading deportation or death only because they had escaped in good time. Nevertheless, the German-Fascist invaders did not succeed in covering up the traces of or concealing their crime.

Examination by medico-legal experts of the exhumed bodies proved irrefutably that the Polish war prisoners were shot by the Germans themselves. The protocol of the Medico-Legal Experts’ Investigation follows.

Protocol of the Medico-Legal Experts’ Investigation

In accordance with the instructions of the Special Commission for ascertaining and investigating the circumstances of the shooting of Polish officers prisoners by the German-Fascist invaders in Katyn Forest (near Smolensk), a Commission of Medico-Legal Experts was set up consisting of Prozorovsky, Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R. and Director of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine; Doctor of Medicine Smolyaninov, Professor of Forensic Medicine at the Second Moscow State Medical Institute; Doctor of Medicine Voropayev, Professor of Pathological Anatomy; Doctor Semenovsky, senior staff scientist of the Thanatology Department of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R.; Assistant Professor Shvaikova senior staff scientist of the Chemico-Legal Department of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R.; with the participation of Major of Medical Service Nikolsky, Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the Western Front; Captain of Medical Service Bussoyedov, Medico-Legal Expert of the X. Army; Major of Medical Service, Subbotin, Chief of Pathological Anatomy Laboratory No. 92; Major of Medical Service Ogloblin; Senior Lieutenant of Medical Service Sadykov, medical specialist; Senior Lieutenant of Medical Service Pushkareva.

During the period between January 16 and January 23, 1944, these medico-legal experts conducted exhumation and medico-legal examination of the bodies of Polish war prisoners buried in graves on the territory of “Kozy Gory” in Katyn Forest 15 kms. from Smolensk. The bodies of Polish war prisoners were buried in a common grave about 60 by 60 by three metres in dimension, and also in another grave about seven by six by three and a half metres. Nine hundred and twenty-five bodies were exhumed from the graves and examined. The exhumation and medico-legal examination of the bodies were effected in order to establish: (a) identity of the dead; (b) causes of death; (c) time of burial.

Circumstances of the case: See materials of the Special Commission. Objective evidence: See the protocols of the medico-legal examination of the bodies.

Conclusion of Medico-Legal Experts

On the basis of the results of the medico-legal examination of the bodies, the commission of medico-legal experts arrived at the following conclusion:

Upon the opening of the graves and exhumations of bodies from them, it was established that:

(a) Among the mass of bodies of Polish war prisoners there were bodies in civilian clothes, the number of which, in relation to the total number of bodies examined, is insignificant (in all two out of 925 exhumed bodies); shoes of army pattern were on these bodies.

(b) The clothing on the bodies of the war prisoners showed that they were officers, and included some privates of the Polish Anny.

(c) Slits in the pockets, pockets turned inside out, and tears in them discovered during examination of the clothing show that as a rule all the clothes on each body (greatcoats, trousers, etc.) bear traces of searches effected of the dead bodies.

(d) In some cases whole pockets were found during examination of the clothing, scraps of newspapers, prayer books, pocket books, postage stamps, postcards and letters, receipts, notes and other documents, as well as articles of value (a gold nugget, dollars). Pipes, pocket knives, cigarette papers, handkerchiefs and other articles were found in these pockets, as well as in the turned-out and torn pockets, under the linings, in the belts of the coats, in footwear and socks.

(e) Some of the documents found contain data referring to the period between November 12, 1940, and June 20, 1941.

(f) The fabric of clothes, especially of greatcoats, uniforms, trousers and tunics, is in a good state of preservation and can be torn with the hands only with great difficulty.

(g) A very small proportion of the bodies (20 out of 925) had the hands tied behind the back with woven cords. The condition of the clothes on the bodies – namely the fact that uniform jackets, shirts, belts, trousers and underwear are buttoned up, boots or shoes are on the feet, scarves and ties tied around the necks, suspenders attached, shirts tucked in – testifies that no external examination of the bodies and extremities of the bodies had been effected previously. The intact state of the skin on the heads, and the absence on them, as on the skin of the chests and abdomens (save in three cases out of 925) of any incisions, cuts or other signs, show convincingly that, judging by the bodies exhumed by the experts’ commission, there had been no medico-legal examination of the bodies.

External and internal examination of 925 bodies proves the existence of bullet wounds on the head and neck, combined in four cases with injury of the bones of the cranium caused by a blunt, hard heavy object. Also, in a small number of cases were discovered injuries of the abdomen caused simultaneously with the wound in the head.

Entry orifices of the bullet wounds, as a rule singular, more rarely double, are situated in the occipital part of the head near the occipital protuberance, at the big occipital orifice or at its edge. In a few cases entry orifices of bullets have been found on the back surface of the neck, corresponding to the first or second or third vertebrae of the neck. The points of exit of the bullets have been found more frequently in the frontal area, more rarely in the parietal and templar areas as well as in the face and neck.

In 27 cases the bullet wounds proved to be blind (without exit orifices), and at the end of the bullet channels under the soft membrane of the cranium, in its bones, in the membranes and in the brain matter, were found deformed, barely deformed, or altogether undeformed cased bullets of the type used with automatic pistols, mostly of the 7.65mm. calibre.

The dimensions of the entry orifices in the occipital bone make it possible to draw the conclusion that fire arms of two calibres were employed in the shooting: in the majority of cases, those of less than 8mm., i.e., 7.65mm. or less, and in a lesser number of cases, those of more than 8mm., i.e., 9mm.

The nature of the fissures of the cranial bones, and the fact that in some cases traces of powder were found at the entry orifice, proves that the shots were fired pointblank or nearly pointblank. Correlation of the points of entry and exit of the bullets shows that the shots were fired from behind with the head bent forward. The bullet channel pierced the vital parts of the brain, or near them, and death was caused by destruction of the brain tissues. The injuries inflicted by a blunt, hard, heavy object found on the parietal bones of the cranium were concurrent with the bullet wounds of the head, and were not in themselves the cause of death.

The medico-legal examination of the bodies carried out between January 16 and January 23, 1944, testifies that there are absolutely no bodies in a condition of decay or disintegration, and that all the 925 bodies are in a state of preservation – in the initial phase of desiccation of the body – which most frequently and clearly was expressed in the region of the thorax and abdomen, sometimes also in the extremities; and in the initial stage of formation of adipocere (in an advanced phase of formation of adipocere in the bodies extracted from the bottom of the graves); in a combination of desiccation of the tissues of the body with the formation of adipocere.

Especially noteworthy is the fact that the muscles of the trunk and extremities absolutely preserved their macroscopic structure and almost normal colour; the internal organs of the thorax and peritoneal cavity preserved their configuration. In many cases sections of heart muscle have a clearly discernible structure and specific colouration, while the brain presented its characteristic structural peculiarities with a distinctly discernible border between the grey and white matter.

Besides the macroscopic examination of the tissues and organs of the bodies, the medico-legal experts removed the necessary material for subsequent microscopic and chemical studies in laboratory conditions.

Properties of the soil in the place of discovery were of a certain significance in the preservation of the tissues and organs of the bodies. After the opening of the graves and exhumation of the bodies and their exposure to the air, the corpses were subject to the action of warmth and moisture in the late summer season of 1943. This could have resulted in a vigorous progress of decay. However, the degree of desiccation of the bodies and formation of adipocere in them, especially the good state of preservation of the muscles and internal organs, as well as of the clothes, give grounds to affirm that the bodies had not remained in the earth for long.

Comparing the condition of bodies in the grave on the territory of “Kozy Gory” with the condition of the bodies in other burial places in Smolensk and its nearest environs – Gedeonovka, Maglenshchina, Readovka, Camp No. 126, Krasny Bor, etc. (see protocol of the Commission of Medico-Legal Experts dated October 22, 1943) – it should be admitted that the bodies of the Polish war prisoners were buried on the territory of “Kozy Gory” about two years ago. This finds its complete corroboration in the documents found in the clothes on the bodies, which preclude the possibility of earlier burial (see point” d ” of paragraph 36 and list of documents).

The commission of medico-legal experts, on the basis of the data and results of the investigation, consider as proved the fact of the killing by shooting of the Polish Army officer and private war prisoners; asserts that this shooting dates back to about two years ago, i.e. between September and December of 1941; regards the fact of the discovery by the commission of medico-legal experts, in the clothes on the bodies, of valuables and documents dated 1941, as proof that the German-Fascist authorities who undertook a search of the bodies in the spring-summer season of 1943 did not do it thoroughly, while the documents discovered testify that the shooting was done after June 1941; notes that in 1943 the Germans had made an extremely small number of post-mortem examinations of the bodies of the shot Polish war prisoners; notes the complete identity of method of the shooting of the Polish war prisoners with that of the shooting of Soviet civilians and war prisoners widely practised by the German-Fascist authorities in the temporarily occupied territory of the U.S.S.R., including the towns of Smolensk, Orel, Kharkov, Krasnodar and Voronezh.

Signed by the Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R., Director of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R., PROZOROVSKY; Professor of Forensic Medicine at the Second Moscow State Medical Institute, Doctor of Medicine SMOLYANINOV; Professor of Pathological Anatomy, Doctor of Medicine VOROPAYEV; Senior Staff Scientist of Thanatological Dept. of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R., Doctor SEMENOVSKY; Senior Staff Scientist of the Forensic Chemistry Dept. of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R., Assistant ProfessorSHYAIKOVA.

Smolensk, January 24, 1944.

Documents Found On the Bodies

Besides the data recorded in the protocol of the commission of medico-legal experts, the time of the shooting of the Polish officer prisoners by the Germans (autumn 1941, and not spring 1940 as the Germans assert) is also ascertained by documents found when the graves were opened, dating not only the latter half of 1940 but also the spring and summer (March-June) of 1941. Of the documents discovered by the medico-legal experts, the following deserve special attention:

1. On body No. 92: A letter from Warsaw addressed to the Central War Prisoners’ Bureau of the Red Cross, Moscow, Kuibyshev Street, House No. 12. The letter is written in Russian. In this letter Sofia Zigon inquires the whereabouts of her husband Tomasz Zigon. The letter is dated September 12, 1940. The envelope bears the impress of it German rubber stamp “Warsaw Sept. 1940” and a rubber stamp “Moscow, Central Post Office, ninth delivery, Sept. 28, 1940,” and an inscription in the Russian language: “Ascertain and forward for delivery, November 15, 1940” (signature illegible).

2. On body No. 4: A postcard registered under the number 0112 from Tarnopol stamped “Tarnopol Nov. 12, 1940.” The written text and address are discoloured.

3. On body No. 101: A receipt No. 10293 dated Dec. 19, 1939 issued by the Kozelsk Camp testifying receipt of a gold watch from Eduard Adamovich Lewandowski. On the back of the receipt is a note dated March 14, 1941 on the sale of this watch to the Jewellery Trading Trust.

4. On body No. 46: A receipt (number illegible) issued December 16, 1939 by the Starobelsk Camp testifying receipt of a gold watch from Vladimir Rudolfovich Araszkevicz. On the back of the receipt is a note dated March 25, 1941 stating that the watch was sold to the Jewellery Trading Trust.

5. On body No. 71: A small paper ikon with the image of Christ, found between pages 114 and 145 of a Catholic prayer book. The inscription, with legible signature, on the back of the ikon reads: “Jadwiga” and bears the date April 4, 1941.”

6. On body No. 46: A receipt dated April 6, 1941 issued by the Camp No. 1-ON, showing receipt of a sum in roubles from Araszkevicz.

7. On the same body No. 46: A receipt dated May 5, 1941 issued by Camp No. 1-ON, showing receipt of 102 roubles from Araszkevicz.

8. On body No. 101: A receipt dated May 15, 1941 issued by Camp No. 1 showing receipt of 175 roubles from Lewandowski.

9. On body No. 53: An unmailed postcard in the Polish language addressed Warsaw Bagatelia, 15, Flat 47, to Irene Kuczinska, and dated June 20, 1941. The sender is Stanislaw Kuczinski.

Conclusions of the Special Commission

From all the material at the disposal of the Special Commission, namely evidence given by over 100 witnesses questioned, data supplied by the medico-legal experts, documents and material evidence found in the graves in the Katyn Forest, the following conclusions emerge with irrefutable clarity:

1. The Polish prisoners of war who were in the three camps west of Smolensk, and employed on road building before the outbreak of war, remained there after the German invaders reached Smolensk, until September, 1941, inclusive.

2. In the Katyn Forest, in the autumn of 1941, the German occupation authorities carried out mass shootings of Polish prisoners of war from the above-named camps.

3. The mass shootings of Polish prisoners of war in the Katyn Forest was carried out by a German military organisation hiding behind the conventional name “H.Q. of the 537th Engineering Battalion,” which consisted of Ober-leutnant Arnes, his assistant, Ober-leutnant Rekst, and Lieutenant Hott.

4. In connection with the deterioration of the general military and political situation for Germany at the beginning of the year 1943, the German occupation authorities, with provocational aims, took a number of steps in order to ascribe their own crimes to the organs of the Soviet Power, calculating on setting Russians and Poles at loggerheads.

5. With this aim, (a) the German-Fascist invaders, using persuasion, attempts at bribery, threats and barbarous torture, tried to find witnesses among Soviet citizens, from whom they tried to extort false evidence alleging that the Polish prisoners of war had been shot by the organs of Soviet Power in the spring of 1940; (b) the German occupation authorities in the spring of 1943 brought in from other districts bodies of Polish war prisoners whom they had shot and put them into the open graves in the Katyn Forest, calculating on covering up the traces of their own crimes, and on increasing the number of “victims of Bolshevik atrocities” in the Katyn Forest; (c) preparing for their provocation, the German occupation authorities started opening the graves in the Katyn Forest in order to take out documents and material evidence which exposed them, using for this work about 500 Russian prisoners of war who were shot by the Germans after the work was completed.

6. It has been established beyond doubt from the evidence of the medico-legal experts, that (a) the time of the shooting was the autumn of 1941; (b) in shooting the Polish war prisoners the German hangmen applied the same method of pistol shots in the back of the head as they applied in the mass execution of Soviet citizens in other towns, e.g., Orel, Voronezh, Krasnodar and Smolensk itself.

7. The conclusions drawn from the evidence given by witnesses, and from the shooting of Polish war prisoners by the Germans in the autumn of 1941, are completely confirmed by the material evidence and documents excavated from the Katyn graves.

8. In shooting the Polish war prisoners in the Katyn Forest, the German-Fascist invaders consistently carried out their policy of physical extermination of the Slav peoples.


Chairman of the Special Commission, Member of the Extraordinary State Commission, Academician Burdenko.


Member of the Extraordinary State Commission, Academician Alexei Tolstoy.
Member of the Extraordinary State Commission, the Metropolitan Nikolai.
Chairman of the All-Slav Committee, Lieutenant-General Gundorov.
Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Union of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Kolesnikov.
People’s Commissar for Education of the Russian S.F.S.R., Academician Potemkin.
Chief of the Central Medical Administration of the Red Army, Colonel-General Smirnov.
Chairman of the Smolensk Regional Executive Committee, Melnikov.

Smolensk, January 24, 1944.


“We fought together, communists and Nazis alike, for the liberation of Russia”


They are aged 24, 27 and 28. One was unemployed, one was a nightclub doorman and the other worked for car firm Mercedes. They all lived in Madrid, but they met on the front in Ukraine as part of the pro-Russian Donbass International Brigades. They had arrived there after a three-day journey last summer, each traveling separately – one went directly to Donetsk and the other two after a stopover in Moscow, where a Russian government worker was waiting for them. The trio all used the same method of self-enlistment: they contacted Russian combatants via Twitter, according to sources in the investigation that led to their arrest on Friday.

They were paid neither travel expenses nor a salary, but they were received with open arms by the Russian commanders in charge on the Ukraine eastern front. As well as their AK-74 rifles – the most modern Kalashnikov model – they received uniforms, food and free lodging. They left behind their comfortable Madrid apartments to live in collective barracks where, they say, there are still more Spanish “brigade members” and “several hundred” from other countries, above all Serbia and France.

“Half of them are communists and the other half are Nazis,” they explained. “We fought together, communists and Nazis alike […]. We all want the same: social justice and the liberation of Russia from the Ukrainian invasion.”

At the moment, Spanish police only have proof that one of the Madrileños arrested fought on the front lines. The other two were used for propaganda purposes to encourage others to join the ranks. As they were “volunteers,” they were free to leave whenever they wanted, which they did in December, returning to Madrid as they had arrived – separately.

During searches of their homes carried out on Friday as part of Operation Danko – a reference to the 1988 film Red Heat, in which Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a Russian cop of the same name – the police seized Russian military clothing, knives, machetes and insignias. Only one of the three had a police record, for taking part in a political brawl. One of them belonged to a new far-left formation called Communist Reconstruction.

The police have accused them of compromising the peace and interests of Spain, homicide, and possession of arms and explosives.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on the Mongolian People’s Republic


Mongolian People’s Republic

(Bugd Nairamdakh Mongol Ard Uls).

The Mongolian People’s Republic (MPR) is a state in Central Asia bounded by the USSR and the People’s Republic of China. Area, 1,565,000 sq km. Population, 1,377,900 (early 1974). The capital is Ulan Bator. Administratively, the country is divided into aimaks; Ulan Bator and Darkhan form separate administrative units (see Table 1).


The MPR is a socialist state and a people’s republic. The present constitution, adopted on July 6, 1960, proclaims that all power in the republic belongs to the working people. Socialist ownership of the means of production and the socialist economic system constitute the economic basis of the social system.

The highest organ of state power and the sole legislative body is the Great People’s Khural, popularly elected by secret ballot for a four-year term on the basis of universal, equal, and direct suffrage. One deputy is elected for every 4,000 inhabitants. The Great People’s Khural ratifies and amends the constitution, establishes the basic principles of domestic and foreign policy, and approves national economic plans, the state budget, and reports on the implementation of the plans. Between sessions of the Great People’s Khural, the highest state body is the Presidium, elected by the Khural and headed by a chairman, deputy chairmen, and a secretary. The highest executive and administrative body is the government of the MPR, the Council of Ministers, which is designated by the Great People’s Khural.

The local governing bodies in the aimaks, cities, and urban districts are khurals of deputies popularly elected for three-year terms. The khurals elect executive bodies from among the deputies. All those citizens who have attained the age of 18 may vote.

The judicial system of the MPR includes the Supreme Court, aimak and city courts, and special courts for criminal cases involving the military. There are also aimak circuit courts and district courts. The Supreme Court and the special courts are elected by the Great People’s Khural for a four-year term, and the other courts are elected by the corresponding khurals. People’s assessors participate in the consideration of cases. Supervision over the observance of legality is exercised by the procurator of the MPR, who is appointed for a four-year term by the Great People’s Khural, and by aimak, city, district, and military procurators appointed by the procurator of the MPR.

Terrain. The MPR is situated in steppe, semi desert, and desert regions of the temperate zone in northeastern Central Asia. A large part of the country lies at elevations of 1,000 to 2,000 m, with mountains predominating in the west and northwest and high plains in the east. The most important ranges are the Mongolian Altai, reaching 4,362 m on Mount Munkh-Khairkhan Ula and stretching for 1,000 km; the Gobi Altai; and the Khangai. The Khentei Upland occupies the central part of the country. The mountains have gentle, smooth slopes and crests, and their bases are often covered by thick talus mantles. Sharp peaks occur only in the highest ranges. The Gobi, one of the world’s largest deserts,extends into the country from the south and southeast. Several isolated volcanic massifs tower above the desert in the southeast, forming the Dariganga volcanic region. In the north and the northwest there are several vast, relatively deep intermontane basins and valleys, the largest of which are the Great Lakes Depression, the Valley of Lakes, and the depression occupied by the valleys of the Orkhon and Selenga rivers. The eastern part of the country consists of plains descending toward the northeast. In the southern and southeastern parts of the Gobi and the Great Lakes Depression, areas covered by sand total about 30,000 sq km.

Geological structure and minerals Mongolia belongs to the Central Asian system, part of the Ural-Mongolian Geosynclinal Belt. The system is divided into two distinct regions, a northern Caledonian and a southern Hercynian. There aretwo types of Paleozoic geosynclinal structures: those in which basic volcanism has played the leading role and those with sialic volcanism. Orogenic Molasse formations are associated with superimposed structures. Granitoids are extensively developed. Tectonics are of the foldblock type, with plutonic fractures, frequently accompanied by ultrabasites; the linear structures of the south are isolated. During the Paleozoic the geosynclines migrated and underwent rejuvenation from north to south.

Mesozoic and Cenozoic formations, filling the downwarps and grabens, are represented by volcanic and sedimentary rocks in the east and amagmatic strata in the west. Remains of dinosaurs have been found in the continental rocks of the Mesozoic.

Important minerals include deposits of coal in the Upper Paleozoic and Mesozoic rocks of superimposed depressions and grabens (Tabun-Tologoi, Sharyn-Gol, Nalaikha). There are deposits of iron ore in Lower Paleozoic siliceous and siliceous-volcanic formations (Tamryn-Gol, Baiangol). The largest of the explored deposits of tungsten are at Buren-Tsogt and Ikh Khairkhan. Tungsten, copper, and molybdenum ores (Erdenituin-Obo) and deposits of fluorite (Berkh) are associated with the Mesozoic metallogenic age. Phosphorite deposits associated with carbonate deposits of the Upper Riphean and Vend have been discovered around Lake Khubsugul. The country also has deposits of gold, tin, zinc, piezoelectric quartz, asbestos, gypsum, granite, and other minerals.

Climate. The climate is dry, markedly continental, and temperate, and there are great seasonal and daily fluctuations in temperature. Winters are cold and sunny, with little snowfall. January temperatures average35°C (minimum,50°C) in the north and10°C in the south. Summers are warm and short. The average July temperature ranges from 18° to 26°C, reaching a maximum of 40°C. The north receives 200–300 mm of precipitation annually and the extreme south (especially the southwest), less than 100 mm. The mountains receive as much as 500 mm of precipitation annually, with the maximum occurring in summer. There are glaciers in the Mongolian Altai, and sporadic permafrost occurs in the northern part of the country.

Rivers and lakes. The largest river, the Selenga (flowing for about 600 km in the MPR), drains into the Arctic Ocean, and the large Kerulen and Onon rivers drain into the Pacific. The largest rivers of the interior are the Dzabkhan and the Kobdo. The annual runoff totals about 30 cu km. The rivers are fed chiefly by rain and snow; floods occur in spring and summer. Many large lakes are found in the tectonic depressions in the west. The largest saline lakes are Ubsu-Nur, covering 3,350 sq km, and Khirgis-Nur, and the principal freshwater lakes are Khubsugul, with an area of 2,620 sq km and a maximum depth of 238 m, and Khara-Us-Nur. There is year-round navigation on Lake Khubsugul and in the lower reaches of the Orkhon and Selenga rivers.

Soils and flora. Chestnut soils cover more than 60 percent of the country’s area, and brown soils with considerable salinization are also widespread, chiefly in the Gobi Desert. Chernozems are found in the mountains, and meadow soils occur along river valleys and in lake basins. More than 2,000 plant species have been identified. The plains of the north and northeast support grass and forb steppes of feather grass, Leymus chinensis, Koeleria, wheatgrass, Stipasplendens, and wormwood, with an admixture of caragana in places. Vegetation in the semideserts and deserts of the south and southeast includes feather grass, Stipa splendens, and saltworts. Tracts of saxaul are found in these mideserts. The most northerly desert region on earth is in the Great Lakes Depression. Forest steppe landscapes are characteristic of the mountain regions, the northern and northwestern slopes support forests of larch, cedar, pine,spruce, and birch. On the Khentei Upland and in the mountains adjoining Lake Khubsugul there are tracts of coniferous taiga. Forests occupy about 10 percent of the country’s territory. Groves of poplars, willows, and bird cherries grow along river valleys.

Fauna. There are more than 100 species of mammals in the MPR. The most common animals are rodents, including marmots, gerbils, jerboas, hamsters, and field mice. Tolai hares and pikas are found everywhere, and muskrats have been acclimatized. Sables, squirrels, flying squirrels, and Siberian chipmunks inhabit the forests. Ungulates include the wild ass and several antelopes—the Persian gazelle, Mongolian gazelle, and saiga. The forests harbor roe deer and maral, and elk and musk deer are found in the Khentei Upland. Wolves and foxes are numerous. Commercially valuable animals include the Mongolian gazelle, boar, lynx, squirrel, sable, and marmot. Such animals as the wild camel, Przhevalsky’s horse in the Gobi Desert, and the Gobi bear are almost unknown outside Mongolia. Taiga flora and fauna are protected in the Bogdo-Ula (Choibalsan-Ula) Preserve in the Khentei Upland, near Ulan Bator.

Natural regions. The Mongolian Altai has predominantly mountain steppe landscapes. The Great Lakes Depression consists of a series of plains occupied by semideserts and deserts, a melkosopochnik (region of low hills), and numerous lakes. The Khentei-Khangai region has mountain steppe and forest steppe landscapes. The East Mongolian region consists chiefly of steppe plains combined with stretches of melkosopochnik and volcanic uplands. The Gobiregion is dominated by semidesert and desert plains (with some depressions and a melkosopochnik ), covered in places with pebbles and rock debris.


Amantov, V. A., et al. “Osnovnye cherty tektoniki Mongolii.” In Orogenicheskie poiasa. Moscow, 1968.
Mongol’skaia Narodnaia Respublika. Moscow, 1971.
Geologiia Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1973.
Murzaev, E. M. Mongol’skaia Narodnaia Respublika, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1952.
Bespalov, N. D. Pochvy Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki. Moscow, 1951.
Iunatov, A. A. Osnovnye cherty rastitel’nogo pokrova Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Bannikov, A. G. Mlekopitaiushchie Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki. Moscow, 1954.
Kuznetsov, N. T. Vody Tsentral’noi Azii. Moscow, 1968.
Gungaadash, B. Mongoliia segodnia. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from Mongolian.)

E. M. MURZAEV (physical geography) and N. G. MARKOVA (geological structure and minerals)

Khalkha Mongols, numbering 901,200 persons (1969 census), constitute 75.3 percent of the population. Other Mongolian-speaking groups—Derbets (34,700), Baits (25,500), Zakhchins (15,000), Olets (6,900), and Torguts (7,100)—have joined with the Khalkhas to form a socialist nation. Khalkhas and the related Dariganga (20,600) live primarily in the central and eastern regions of the country, and the Derbets, Baits, Zakhchins, Olets, and Torguts inhabit the western regions. In the north live Mongolian-speaking Buriats (29,800), and the northwest is inhabited by Turkic-speaking Kazakhs (62,800; almost all live in the Kazakh national Baian-Ulegei Aimak), Tuvinians (15,700), and a small number of Khotons. Russians (22,100) are concentrated in the cities and in several rural settlements in the Selenga, Central, Khubsugul, and Bulgan aimaks. The official language is Mongolian. Believers among the population are Lamaist Buddhists. The official calendar is the Gregorian.

The country has a high natural population growth rate, averaging 2.8 percent a year between 1963 and 1971. About 60 percent of the population is under 30 years of age. The work force numbered 507,000 persons in 1970, of whom 58.7 percent were employed in agriculture, as compared with 70.1 percent in 1960. There were 93,700 industrial workers in 1969, as compared with 14,800 in 1940. The social composition of the population has changed radically during the years of people’s rule. Between 1956 and 1969 the proportion of industrial and office workers and their families increased from 25.9 percent to 56.4 percent of the total population, and the proportion of members of agricultural associations and handicrafts cooperatives increased from 11.1 percent to 43.5 percent. Population density is very low, averaging less than one person per sq km; the population is particularly sparse in the Gobi. In 1972 about 54 percent of the population lived in rural areas and about 46 percent in cities. Between 1956 and 1971 the urban population grew from 183,000 to 604,000; urban dwellers account for about half the population in Selenga, Eastern, and East Gobi aimaks (52 percent, 49 percent, and 51.5 percent, respectively). The largest city is Ulan Bator (303,000 in 1973, including Nalaikha), and cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants are Darkhan, Choibalsan, Kobdo, Tsetserleg, and Muren.

The primitive communal system and the first states (to the 13th century A.D.). The earliest traces of human habitation in Mongolia date from the end of the Lower Paleolithic, about 200,000 to 100,000 years ago (sites in the southern Gobi regions). Upper Paleolithic sites in the central, Gobi, and eastern regions (40,000 to 12,000 years ago) indicate that a matriarchal clan system had evolved. In Neolithic times, from about the fifth to the third millennium B.C., the chief occupations were hunting and fishing. Agriculture probably arose in eastern and southern Mongolia in the late Neolithic and early Aeneolithic. Copper and bronze articles were produced between the second and the middle of the first millennium B.C., as exemplified by the Karasuk culture and the culture of “grave slabs” and “reindeer stones” (stelae depicting running reindeer).

At the end of the Bronze Age and beginning of the Iron Age (first millennium B.C.), the Mongol tribes took up nomadic livestock raising, and the patriarchal clan system developed. Private property appeared in the fourth and third centuries B.C. as livestock became the property of individual families, and barter was introduced. Tribes united to form confederations, whose social structure exhibited “democratic” features (the rise of chiefs and a military elite), attesting to the disintegration of the primitive communal system and the beginning of feudal society. The first tribal confederation in Mongolia was that of the proto-Mongol Hsiungnu (third century B.C. to the first century A.D.), whose material culture has become well known through excavations conducted in the 1920’s by Soviet archaeologists under the leadership of P. K. Kozlov and excavations by Mongolian archaeologists in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In the first century A.D., the Hsiungnu confederation disintegrated and was succeeded by the Sienpi (Hsienpi) confederation. The process of feudalization continued between the fourth and tenth centuries in the Juan-Juan, Turkic, Uighur, and Kirghiz khanates.

The period of the Khitan state, also known as the Liao empire, which flourished from the tenth to the 12th centuries, constituted the final stage in the transition to feudalism. The Khitan state encompassed part of present day China as well as Mongolia. The collapse of the Liao empire in 1125 led to the formation of early feudal principalities and khanates in Mongolia. The basic means of production, the nomad grazing land (nutuk ), became the exclusive property of the feudal elite (noions), and the bulk of direct producers was gradually transformed into the feudally dependent arat class of nomadic herders. The creation of a strong centralized state capable of establishing and enforcing feudal relations by means of a powerful coercive apparatus became historically inevitable. Such a state was created at the beginning of the 13th century through the amalgamation of numerous Mongol tribes, khanates, and principalities under the noion Temiijin, who succeeded in subjugating rival noions.

Mongolia in the feudal period (13th to early 20th centuries). In 1206, Temiijin was proclaimed great khan, or Genghis Khan, at the great kurultai (assembly) of Mongol noions. His domestic policy was aimed at centralizing the state administration in the interest of the feudal lords and consolidating the autocratic rule of the khan. He sought to make land and pasture the property of the state, personified by the great khan. Land grants, called khubi, were bestowed on the noions in return for military service. These grants were similar to the Near Eastern iqta. Free movement by the direct producers was prohibited, which in effect bound them to the land. Genghis Khan created a unified army (comprising virtually the entire male population) under a centralized command and a personal aristocratic guard of many thousands, both based on harsh military discipline. The slightest insubordination or display of cowardice was punished by death.With the consolidation of feudalism, the formation of a single Mongol nation was completed.

Created in the interest of the noion class, which sought to enrich itself through feudal exploitation and the outright plunder of other countries, the military-feudal state embarked on a path of expansion and conquest. The wars of conquestof Genghis Khan, begun around 1210, were continued by his successors. Northern China, the Tangut state, Middle Asia, Transcaucasia, and Iran were conquered by the mid-13th century, and the Mongol-Tatar yoke was established inRus’. A vast state was formed, known as the Mongol feudal empire. The conquest of China was completed in the 1270’s by Kublai Khan, who founded the Yuan dynasty.

The wars of conquest of Genghis Khan and his successors, which brought great misery to the subjugated peoples and enriched the Mongol feudal lords, had a negative influence on the development of Mongolia itself and causeddecline in its productive forces. Lacking a unified economic base and torn by internal contradictions, the Mongol empire began to disintegrate. In 1368 the Mongol feudal lords were driven out of China, and the battle of Kulikovo in 1380 initiated the overthrow of the Mongol-Tatar yoke in Rus’. In the second half of the 14th century the Mongol state in Iran and Transcaucasia fell, and the conquerors met a similar fate in Middle Asia. The empire of the Mongol feudal lords disappeared in the last quarter of the 14th century.

In the ensuing period of feudal fragmentation the basic socioeconomic and political unit of society was the feudal domain— a khanate or principality (otok) belonging to a descendant of Genghis Khan as his hereditary property (umchi)State ownership of land and the system of conditional grants (khubi), which had existed during the empire, gave way to private feudal landed property and unconditional land grants (umchi). The unified early feudal Mongol state was replaced by a multitude of independent khanates and principalities requiring markets to barter livestock and animal products for the agricultural and handicrafts commodities of settled peoples. At this time China alone could provide this market, but it had little interest in such trade. Mongolia reached the point of economic crisis. The Mongol rulers attempted to impose barter on the Chinese authorities by force. The western Mongol (Oirat) feudal lords, separated from China by vast distances and by the eastern Mongol principalities, were at the greatest disadvantage. A protracted struggle over the trade routes to China developed between the feudal lords of eastern and western Mongolia.

Twice during the 15th century attempts were made to overcome feudal fragmentation and reestablish a unified Mongol state, first by the Oirat ruler Esen Khan (ruled 1440–55) and later by the Mongol Daian Khan (ruled c. 1479 to c. 1543).However, the states they created broke up immediately after their deaths, since the social and economic preconditions for unity were lacking. After the death of Daian Khan, Mongolia was divided into Southern and Northern Mongolia,separated by the Gobi Desert. Shortly thereafter, Northern Mongolia was subdivided into Western (Oirat) and Eastern (Khalkha) Mongolia with the boundary running along the Altai Mountains. This territorial division reflected the formation of distinct Mongolian-speaking feudal groups and nations that began in the 15th century. Subsequently these different groups followed separate lines of historical development. In the 16th century there were more than 200 khanates and principalities in the three parts of Mongolia.

In the last quarter of the 16th century the khans and princes of Southern Mongolia and later those of Khalkha were converted to Lamaist Buddhism. The princes of Western Mongolia were converted in the early 17th century, and shortlythereafter Lamaism became the state religion. Within a short time the church grew into a powerful feudal landowner.

The late 16th and early 17th centuries saw the expansion of the Manchu feudal lords, who in 1616 created a state headed by Nurhachi on the territory of present day northeastern China. Taking advantage of the fragmentation of Mongolia,the Manchu in 1634 destroyed the Chahar Khanate, the largest in Southern Mongolia, and in 1636 the noions of Southern Mongolia accepted the suzerainty of the Manchu ruler Abahai (ruled 1626–43). Southern Mongolia came to be called Inner Mongolia, in contrast to Khalkha Mongolia (present day MPR), which the Manchu called Outer Mongolia.

An Oirat feudal state arose in Western Mongolia in the 1630’s. In 1640 an assembly of Mongol khans and princes met in Dzungaria (Western Mongolia) with the aim of settling domestic feuds and unifying their forces to repel Manchu aggression. This unity proved to be short-lived. Especially acute was the conflict between the Oirat Khanate and the Khalkha noions, cleverly encouraged by the Manchu. In 1688 the Khalkha feudal lords, routed by the Oirat khan Galdan (ruled 1671–97), declared themselves subjects of the Ch’ing dynasty (1644–1911), founded by the Manchu after their conquest of China. The Manchu promised the Khalka protection against the Oirats. The Khalkha’s subjugation to the Manchu was confirmed in 1691 at the Dolonnor assembly of noions of Inner and Outer Mongolia. The Oirat Khanate, relying on the friendly neutrality of Russia, defended its independence in a stubborn struggle and remained the only independent Mongol state. From 1755 to 1758 a broad anti-Manchu liberation movement headed by the Oirat prince Amursana and the Khalkha noion Chingunzhab (Chingunjav) developed in Khalkha and Dzungaria. But the movement was suppressed because of its lack of organization and the vacillations of the noion class. In 1758 the Manchu destroyed the Oirat state, slaughtering more than half a million inhabitants. All of Mongolia came under the rule of Ch’ing China, and the Mongols found themselves under dual oppression, owing obligations not only to the noions and the church but also to the Manchu conquerors. To perpetuate its domination, the Ch’ing dynasty sought to isolate Mongolia from the outside world, primarily from Russia. Direct trade between Mongols and Russian merchants was banned by decrees issued in 1719 and 1722, and it was not resumed until the early 1860’s.

In the mid-19th century capitalist Europe “discovered” China. Mongolia was “discovered” at the same time and like China was rapidly drawn into the world market. Usurious Chinese capitalists poured into Mongolia. Unequal trade exhausted the already weak Mongolian economy. The large-scale livestock raising of the noions could not develop normally under these conditions, and income fell.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries feudal Mongolia became the object of imperialist struggle in the Far East. The main rivals were Japan and tsarist Russia, although Great Britain, the USA, and Germany were also interested. The Ch’ing dynasty began extensive colonization of Mongolia, eliminating the vestiges of the Mongol princes’ autonomy and placing the administration of the country in the hands of its own bureaucracy, supported by Manchu-Chinese garrisons. This policy provoked the resistance not only of the arats but also of the noions, whose position as a ruling class was thus undermined. The overthrow of Manchu domination and independence became nationwide goals. The Russian Revolution of 1905–07 and the growth of the revolutionary movement in China contributed to the revolutionary situation in Mongolia. Anti-Manchu uprisings became larger and more frequent. In the southwestern part of the Kobdo District of Outer Mongolia a movement led by the arat Aiushi assumed broad dimensions, but in general the struggle was directed by the noions.

In the summer of 1911 a secret assembly of high feudal lords convened in Urga (present day Ulan Bator) decided to send a secret mission to St. Petersburg to negotiate for Russian aid in creating an independent Mongolian state. But theRussian government advised Mongolia to seek autonomy within China, promising the noions Russian aid in return for privileges in the country. The overthrow of the Ch’ing dynasty and the formation of an independent Mongolian monarchy headed by the bogdo-gegen (the head of the church) were proclaimed in Urga in 1911. On Dec. 16, 1911, the bogdo-gegen formally assumed the khan’s throne. For more than three years the government established by the bogdo-gegen unsuccessfully sought recognition of Mongolian sovereignty by the Great Powers. In the end it was obliged to accept autonomy within China, which was confirmed by the Kiakhta Treaty of 1915.

Mongolia since 1917. THE VICTORY OF THE REVOLUTION OF 1921 AND THE ACHIEVEMENT OF GENERAL DEMOCRATIC GOALS. The victory of the October Revolution in Russia and the formation of the Soviet state in 1917 opened the way for the revolutionary renewal of Mongolia. The reactionary noion class, however, was hostile to the victory of the socialist revolution in Russia. The government of the bogdo-gegen closed the border with the RSFSR, refused to receive Soviet diplomats, maintained ties with representatives of the former tsarist regime, and in the spring of 1918 permitted Chinese militarist forces to enter the country. It concealed from the people the August 1919 appeal of the Soviet government to the people and government of Outer Mongolia in which the Soviet government renounced all unequal treaties between tsarist Russia and Mongolia, recognized Mongolia’s right to independence, and proposed establishment of diplomatic relations. In November 1919 the Mongolian government renounced autonomy, turning the country into a refuge for Russian White Guards and a base for anti-Soviet intervention, and in 1920–21 it supported the Japanese protege Baron R.F. Ungern von Sternberg, who occupied the country and established a military dictatorship.

Only a successful anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolution could save the country from outright colonial enslavement. Preparations for such a revolution were begun. Progressive representatives of the arat class and progressive elements among other strata of the population, led by D. Sukhe-Bator and Kh. Choibalsan, established two underground revolutionary groups in Urga in the fall of 1919. In 1920 the two groups united to form a single revolutionary organization called the Mongolian People’s Party. Seeking to establish a direct link with Soviet Russia, the Mongolian revolutionaries sent representatives to Irkutsk and Moscow in the summer of 1920. Working under the terrorist regime of the Chinese and later the Ungern invaders, the members of the Mongolian revolutionary organization disseminated propaganda and organized the masses, laying the foundation for a people’s revolutionary army in preparation for a nationwide armed uprising.

The First Congress of the party, held in Kiakhta in March 1921, formally established the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP), called the Mongolian People’s Party prior to 1925. In accordance with the resolutions of the congress, the Provisional People’s Government was formed on March 13, and the staff of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Army was confirmed; Sukhe-Bator was appointed commander in chief. On March 18 revolutionary troops liberated the city of Maimachen (present day Altan-Bulak) from the occupation forces. In June 1921, Red Army units entered Mongolia at the request of the Provisional People’s Government to assist in the struggle against Ungern’s bands. On July 6 the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Army and Soviet troops liberated Urga. On July 10, 1921, the Central Committee of the party adopted a resolution to transfer central authority to a permanent people’s government.The revolution triumphed. Power was entrusted to people’s khurals, which became the political foundation of the Mongolian state. A dictatorship of the toiling arat class, led by the party and drawing on the support and aid of the working class of Soviet Russia and the international communist movement, was established by legislation.

All state affairs were conducted by the people’s government, although from 1921 to 1924 Mongolia formally remained a limited monarchy headed by the bogdo-gegen. This situation resulted from the strong influence of the church on the masses and the need to unite all patriotic forces in the anti-imperialist struggle. The people’s government carried out a number of anti-imperialist and anti-feudal reforms. Debts to foreign merchants and usurers, primarily Chinese, were canceled, land was nationalized, serfdom and feudal titles and privileges were abolished, and local self-government was democratized. In the course of the revolution social lines were more clearly defined, and the class struggle intensified, as was reflected in the counterrevolutionary conspiracies of Bodo (1922) and Danzan (1924), which were crushed by the people’s government.

Mongolia’s ties with Soviet Russia were strengthened and expanded. Of paramount importance was a Mongolian delegation’s meeting with V. I. Lenin in November 1921. Lenin’s views on the possibility of noncapitalist development in Mongolia determined the political course of the party and the people’s government. The party joined the Comintern as a sympathizer. On Nov. 5, 1921, a Soviet-Mongolian friendship agreement was signed in Moscow.

The Third Congress of the party, held in August 1924, established as the general party line the noncapitalist development of the country. The socioeconomic measures between 1921 and 1924 under the leadership of the party strengthened the people’s state and created the preconditions for the establishment of a republican system in Mongolia. The first Great People’s Khural, held in November 1924, proclaimed Mongolia a people’s republic and ratified the first constitution of the Mongolian People’s Republic.

The people’s government did all it could to stimulate the growth of productive forces, relying on the aid of the Soviet state. In December 1921 the Mongolian Central People’s Cooperative (Montsenkoop) was formed; in June 1924 the Mongolian Commercial and Industrial Bank was established; and in December 1925 monetary reforms were carried out and a national currency, the tugrik, was issued. Through the efforts of the state and the cooperatives the first industrial enterprises were built, and modern transportation and communications systems were established.

The country’s noncapitalist development toward socialism was opposed by right-wing deviationists from 1926 to 1928. The rout of the rightists at the Seventh Congress of the MPRP, held from October to December 1928, was a major victory for the Leninist basic line of the party. In the early 1930’s foreign capital was expelled from the country’s economy, and a state monopoly over foreign trade was established. The taxation policy, the strengthening of Montsenkoop, and the aid of Soviet trade organizations ensured the fulfillment of these objectives.

For a long time former feudal lords held strong positions in the economy, owning more than one-third of all livestock in 1924. In 1929 the expropriation of large feudal holdings began, and the livestock and property of former feudal lords became the property of poor peasants and the people’s state. The elimination of the feudal lords as a class took place amid a fierce struggle. The forces of reaction employed various forms of resistance, ranging from small-scale sabotage to armed uprisings in 1932. The reactionaries took advantage of the errors of the ultra-left leadership in the party and the state between 1929 and 1932. Ignoring the real situation, the ultra-leftists proclaimed the transition of the revolution to the socialist stage and began to implement a policy that caused serious economic and political difficulties. The third Extraordinary Plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the MPRP (June 1932) condemned the distortions that had been permitted and attempted to restore the party’s general line. The Ninth Congress of the MPRP, held in September and October 1934, approved the decisions of the Extraordinary Plenum.

Emancipation from colonial dependence and the abolition of feudal relations gave impetus to the development of the productive forces. The country’s livestock increased by 36 percent between 1929 and 1940. State and cooperative industry arose, chiefly coal mining, the production of electric energy, and the processing of agricultural raw materials. Automotive, railroad, and air transport developed. Between 1934 and 1939 the retail trade increased 2.5 times and exports 2.3 times; imports doubled. The main sources of revenue were the state and cooperative sectors: taxes and imposts collected from the population accounted for only 16.7 percent of revenues in 1940.

Against the background of a complicated international situation resulting from Japan’s aggressive policy, a Soviet-Mongolian gentlemen’s agreement on mutual aid in the event of an attack on one of the parties was concluded in November 1934. The oral agreement was confirmed by the Soviet-Mongolian Protocol on Mutual Assistance signed in March 1936. The Japanese troops that invaded Mongolia near the Khalkhin-Gol River in May 1939 were vigorously resisted by the Mongolian Army and the Soviet troops that came to its aid. In August 1939 the Japanese were completely routed.

By 1940 the country’s social structure had been fundamentally changed through revolutionary reforms. The class of feudal lords had disappeared, and the arats had become a class of free small producers. A national working class was emerging (numbering about 15,000 workers in 1940), and a working-class intelligentsia was developing. Small-scale and socialist enterprises were the basic economic unit. The socialist sector encompassed state and cooperative industry, mechanized transport, the financial system, and state and cooperative commerce. There were centers of socialist production in agriculture as well, the goskhozes, but small-scale production predominated. Capitalist elements also persisted in agriculture—large livestock-raising farms based on the hiring and exploitation of labor. In commerce these elements were represented by private merchants. In general, however, capitalist enterprises played an insignificant role in the national economy. The people’s government pursued a policy of limiting and displacing these elements. During the general democratic stage of development a cultural revolution took place with the aim of overcoming feudal vestiges in the people’s consciousness and establishing a revolutionary world view and progressive culture.

The achievements of the general democratic stage were summed up at the Tenth Congress of the MPRP held in March and April 1940 and at the Eighth Great People’s Khural in June 1940. The congress adopted a new party program,and the Eighth Great People’s Khural promulgated a new constitution reflecting the profound socio-economic changes that had occurred in the republic.

CONSTRUCTION OF SOCIALISM. Having fulfilled the general democratic tasks of the revolution by 1940, the country entered a new, socialist stage. The main tasks now became the acceleration of the rate of growth of productive forces, the voluntary formation of production cooperatives out of individual arat farms throughout the country, the creation of a single socialist system for the national economy, and the further development of the cultural revolution.

The transition to the socialist stage took place during World War II. From the first day of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, the Mongolian people, the MPRP, and the government of Mongolia took a consistently internationalist position of supporting the just cause of the peoples of the USSR and giving them much moral and material aid. This position was set forth in the Declaration of the Joint Session of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the MPRP,the Presidium of the Lesser Khural, and the Council of Ministers of the MPR on June 22, 1941. Thousands of tons of food, warm clothing, the savings of Mongolian working people, and thousands of head of cattle were contributed to the Red Army. During the war, 32,000 horses were sent by the Mongolian people as a gift to the USSR. The workers of Mongolia sent several trainloads of gifts to the fronts of the Patriotic War. The Revolutionary Mongolia Tank Column and the Mongolian Arat Air Squadron, which fought in battles against fascist German troops, were built with money collected by the working people of Mongolia. The economic policy of the MPRP and the people’s government was oriented toward the fullest utilization of local resources and the satisfaction of the country’s needs through domestically produced products. The MPR participated directly in the rout of the Japanese aggressors, declaring war on Japan on Aug. 10,1945. Its 80,000-man army fought a heroic campaign across the Gobi Desert to the Gulf of Liaotung, making its contribution to the common cause of victory.

In 1944 the government of Mongolia abolished the restrictions on the electoral rights of former feudal lords and persons who had previously exploited the labor of others, granting them the right to elect representatives to organs of people’s power and to be eligible for election. In 1949 elections by stages were replaced by direct elections and open voting by secret ballot. The country’s international position was strengthened. Its sovereignty was confirmed at the Yalta Conference in 1945. Fraternal relations with the USSR were strengthened. The Treaty on Friendship and Mutual Assistance Between the USSR and the MPR and the Agreement on Economic and Cultural Cooperation were signed in February 1946. In 1948, Mongolia began to establish diplomatic relations with the other socialist states, and economic and cultural cooperation with these countries expanded.

The postwar period was marked by great achievements in socialist construction. In 1947 the Eleventh Congress of the MPRP adopted a resolution calling for long-term planning of the national economy and culture and ratified the directives for the first five-year plan (1948–52). The session of the Great People’s Khural held in July 1954 elected Zh. Sambu (died 1972) chairman of the Presidium of the Great People’s Khural and formed a government headed by lu.Tsedenbal.

In the following years the national economy developed according to the second five-year plan (1953–57) and the three-year plan (1958–60). The development of industry brought about the growth of the working class. In 1960 the number of industrial and office workers was 5.9 times greater than in 1940. At the country’s socialist stage of development the working class became the leading force in the construction of a new society.

Beginning in 1955 agricultural production cooperatives were organized on a large scale. By the spring of 1959, virtually all the country’s arat farms had joined agricultural associations. The plenum of the Central Committee of the MPRP held in December 1959 announced that with the completion of the organization of the arat class into production cooperatives, socialist productive relations had triumphed in all spheres of the national economy. This meant that the country had made the transition to the socialist social system and that the party’s general line of noncapitalist development toward socialism had been successful. The historic victories of the Mongolian people were reflected in the new constitution ratified in July 1960 at the first session of the fourth convocation of the Great People’s Khural.

The Fourteenth Congress of the MPRP, held in July 1961, confirmed that the country had entered the period in which the construction of socialism was being completed. The fullest development of the material and technical base of socialism was now the main goal. The congress approved the directives of the third five-year plan (1961–65). The new program of the MPRP, adopted by the Fifteenth Congress in 1966, reflected the successes that had been achieved and defined the tasks for transforming the country into an industrial-agrarian state. The directives of the fourth five-year plan (1966–70) for the development of the national economy and culture were approved. The successful fulfillment of the plan raised the level of Mongolia’s economy and culture to a still higher level.

The Sixteenth Congress of the MPRP, held in June 1971, summed up the achievements of the 50-year struggle of the working people to overcome the country’s backwardness and their efforts to ensure the victory of the socialist path of development. The congress approved the directives for the fifth five-year plan for the development of the national economy and culture (1971–75), which were successfully, carried out. Over these five years the gross national product increased by 44.5 percent, the national income by 38 percent, and the volume of industrial production by 55.2 percent. The Seventeenth Congress of the MPRP, held in June 1976, adopted the Guidelines for the Development of Mongolia’s National Economy for 1976–1980. The new five-year plan’s chief goal is to ensure a further growth of social production, to raise its efficiency, and to improve the quality of work in all sectors of the economy and culture,thereby achieving a steady improvement in the people’s living standard and cultural life.

Mongolia’s foreign policy aims at securing peaceful conditions for the construction of socialism and strengthening the unity and cohesion of the world socialist system. The republic supports the national liberation struggle of peoples and the revolutionary struggle of the working class of the capitalist countries, and it promotes the preservation and strengthening of peace and the security of nations. Observing the principles of equality, mutual respect, and nonintervention in domestic affairs, Mongolia is pursuing a policy of establishing and developing relations with nonsocialist states regardless of their social system. The republic supports the USSR’s proposals for general and complete disarmament (1959 and 1962). It signed the Moscow Treaty of 1963 banning the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, outer space, and under water, the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons (1968), and the treaty on the ocean floor(1970). It supports the Arab countries’ struggle against Israeli aggression, the struggle of the peoples of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, the proposals of the Korean Democratic People’s Republic for the peaceful unification of Korea, the anti-imperialist struggle of the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, collective security in Asia, and the struggle of progressive forces for peace and security in Europe. Mongolia has been a member of the UN since 1961 andmember of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance since 1962. By 1975 it had established diplomatic relations with 75 countries and trade relations with more than 20. It belongs to 62 international organizations, 19 of which are governmental, and since 1969 it has been a member of the Disarmament Committee. Soviet-Mongolian relations are governed by the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, signed in January 1966. Mongolia has also signed treaties on friendship and cooperation with a number of other socialist countries.


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E. A. NOVGORODOVA (to the third century B.C.), G. S. GOROKHOVA (from the third century B.C. to the 13th century A.D.), and I. IA. ZLATKIN (from the 13th century)

The Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP; Mongol Ardyn Khuv’sgalt Nam) was organized at the First Congress, held Mar. 1–3, 1921. Until 1925 it was called the Mongolian People’s Party. In January 1976 it numbered more than 67,000 members and candidate members. The country’s trade unions were organized and amalgamated at the first congress of trade unions in 1927. In 1976 they had a membership of about 300,000, and since 1949 they have belonged to the World Federation of Trade Unions. The Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League, established in 1921 and numbering more than 140,000 members in 1976, belongs to the World Federation of Democratic Youth. Other organizations include the Committee of Mongolian Women, established in 1933; the Federation of Mongolian Organizations of Peace and Friendship, established in 1959; the Society for Mongolian-Soviet Friendship, established in 1947;the Mongolian Peace Committee, established in 1949; and the Mongolian Committee of Solidarity With the Countries of Asia and Africa, established in 1957.


As a result of the People’s Revolution of 1921, Mongolia embarked on the path of socialist development, bypassing the capitalist stage. Under the people’s government Mongolia was transformed from a backward agrarian-feudal country  with nomadic livestock raising into a rapidly developing socialist agrarian-industrial state. Extensive cooperation with the USSR and, in the postwar period, with other socialist countries as well played an important role in building the material and technical base of socialism and in developing industry, agriculture, transportation, communications, and other branches of the national economy. Mongolia maintains both bilateral and multilateral economic ties with the socialist countries in the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). Within the international socialist division of labor, the republic specializes in producing food and light industry products—primarily processed raw materials of livestock raising. Mongolia supplies the world market with leather, wool, leather and wool articles, meat products, and casein.

Agriculture accounted for 19.6 percent of the national income in 1973, industry for 24.1 percent, construction for 12.6 percent, transportation and communications for 7.2 percent, and trade for 34.4 percent. The fifth five-year plan (1971–75) was inaugurated in 1971.

Agriculture. As a result of fundamental socioeconomic reforms, socialist productive relations dominate agriculture. There are two kinds of socialist property—cooperative (agricultural associations, called SKhO) and state (goskhozes). Along with traditional livestock raising, crop farming has become an important branch of agriculture. In 1972 livestock raising accounted for 83.4 percent of the gross agricultural product and crop cultivation for 16.6 percent. The ratio of livestock to inhabitants is one of the highest in the world. About 24.6 percent of the cultivated area, 95 percent of the pastures, and 75 percent of the livestock belong to the cooperative sector, comprising 272 SKhO’s at the end of 1972. Some 22.2 percent of the livestock is the personal property of SKhO members. The SKhO’s are the main suppliers of livestock products. The state sector, consisting of 35 goskhozes, owns 75.4 percent of the cultivated area, 3 percent of the pastures, and 4 percent of the livestock. It accounts for four-fifths of the total output of cereals and for a substantial quantity of potatoes, vegetables, and fodder crops. The goskhozes also raise pedigree livestock. The main farming operations on the goskhozes are largely mechanized. At the end of 1972 there were 6,300 tractors, as compared with 1,700 in 1960. Various measures are being taken to raise the level of agriculture, particularly animal husbandry,including the construction of livestock buildings and watering facilities, the irrigation of pastures, and the development of a mixed-feed industry.

LIVESTOCK RAISING. Sheep raising, the leading branch of animal husbandry, is well developed throughout the country, but especially in the western and central regions. Cattle are raised primarily in the northeastern and northern regions.Goats are raised in the west, camels chiefly in the south and southeast, and yaks and khainaks in mountainous areas. Horses are bred throughout the country. Hog and poultry farms are being established on the outskirts of towns. Fur farming is also important. (See Tables 2 and 3 for the number of livestock and the products of livestock raising.)


CROP CULTIVATION. Between 1955 and 1972 the sown area increased from 62,900 hectares (ha) to 475,000 ha through the opening of virgin land. Cereals and legumes occupy 88.4 percent


of the sown area; fodder crops, 10.7 percent; potatoes, 0.6 percent; and vegetables, 0.3 percent. (See Table 4 for the yield of principal crops.)

Table4Industry. Owing to Mongolia’s particular historical and socioeconomic development, the country’s socialist industrialization began with the creation of branches of the light and food industries. Between the 1940’s and 1960’s, along with such traditional branches as the production of textiles, clothing, and leather footwear, branches of the heavy industry also developed, including the mining, electrical energy, woodworking, building-materials, and metalworking industries.(See Table 5 for the branch structure of industry.)


Most industrial enterprises are small or medium in size. Between 1941 and 1950 the annual growth rate of the gross industrial product averaged 6.9 percent; from 1951 to 1960, 10.8 percent; and between 1961 and 1970, 9.7 percent.Overall, the gross industrial product increased 13.8 times between 1940 and 1970. In 1972 industry contributed more than one-third of the country’s social product. Almost the entire industrial output, 96.8 percent in 1972, was produced by the state sector. In 1973 producer goods accounted for 49.7 percent of the gross industrial output and consumer goods for 50.3 percent.

MINING AND ELECTRIC POWER. The main branch of mining is the extraction of coal, chiefly lignite. Most of the coal is mined at the Sharyn-Gol open pit mine near Darkhan, producing more than 1 million tons annually; the Nalaikha mine, with an annual capacity of 600,000 tons; and the Adunchulun open-pit mine near Choibalsan, with an annual capacity of 200,000 tons. There are a number of smaller strip mines in the Under-Khan region and elsewhere. Electric energy is produced by steam power plants, of which the largest is at Darkhan. In 1967 a unified power system was built in the Central Region with the aid of the USSR.

Tungsten and fluorspar (fluorite) are also extracted. In 1973 construction began on an ore-concentration combine for processing the output of the copper-molybdenum mine at Erdenetiin-Obo, Bulgan Aimak.

MANUFACTURING. The light and food industries account for about half the gross industrial output and employ about half the country’s industrial workers. Among the largest enterprises is the industrial combine at Ulan Bator with eight factories, including a wool-washing plant, tanneries processing large hides and kidskin, and factories producing leather articles, felt, worsted cloth, and footwear. Other large enterprises include meat-packing plants at Ulan Bator and Choibalsan, flour milling combines at Ulan Bator and Sukhe-Bator, and the Ulan Bator mechanized bakery. The woodworking combines at Ulan Bator and Sukhe-Bator and other forestry enterprises use local lumber, cut chiefly in the north (754,000 cu m in 1972). Important enterprises of the building materials industry include the prefabricated housing combine at Ulan Bator and the cement and brick plants at Darkhan. Other products include furs, sheepskin coats, carpets, pharmaceuticals, and glass and porcelain articles. There is a printing industry. The country’s three major industrial areas are the Ulan Bator, Darkhan-Selenga (center, Darkhan) and Eastern regions (center, Choibalsan). (See Table 6 forthe output of the principal industrial products.)


Transportation. Railroad transport accounted for about three-fourths of the total freight turnover in 1972. The railroad system is 1,400 km long. The main railroad is the Trans-Mongolian, which crosses the country from north to south. About one-fourth of the total freight is transported by motor vehicle. Most roads are unpaved. There is navigation on Lake Khubsugul and on the Selenga and Orkhon rivers. The Civilian Air Transportation Board was established in 1956. Ulan Bator has an international airport.

Foreign trade. Economic and scientific-technical cooperation and trade with the socialist countries (members of COMECON, which Mongolia joined in 1962) are an important factor in the development of the national economy. With the aid of the socialist countries a number of major enterprises have been constructed, including electric power plants at Ulan Bator and Darkhan (USSR), Ulegei (Czechoslovakia), and Kharkhorin (Poland); the shaft and open-pit mines atSharyn-Gol, Nalaikha, and Adun-Chulun (USSR); the Ulan Bator motor vehicle repair plant (USSR); woodworking and prefabricated housing combines at Ulan Bator and a building materials combine at Darkhan (USSR), and a cement plant at Darkhan (Czechoslovakia). Other enterprises built with the assistance of the COMECON countries include a silica brick plant (Poland), a carpet factory (German Democratic Republic), leather enterprises (Czechoslovakia), a sheepskin coat factory (Bulgaria), a garment factory (Hungary), meat-packing plants (USSR, German Democratic Republic, and Bulgaria), and wool-washing factories (USSR). The COMECON countries are also helping Mongolia in exploring and developing mineral deposits.

A foreign trade monopoly was instituted in 1930. In 1972 the socialist countries, chiefly members of COMECON, accounted for about 99 percent of Mongolia’s foreign trade; the USSR’s share amounted to 85 percent. The first trade agreement with the USSR was signed in 1923; Soviet-Mongolian agreements on economic cooperation and trade agreements for 1971–75 were concluded in 1970. Trade with the COMECON countries is regulated by five-year agreements.

The main exports are livestock, meat and meat products, wool, hides and leather goods, and minerals. The main imports are machines and equipment, petroleum products, ferrous metals, chemical products, foodstuffs, and consumer goods. The monetary unit is the tugrik. According to the exchange rate of the State Bank of the USSR in April 1974, 100 tugriks equaled 22 rubles 50 kopeks.


Growth of prosperity. The living standard and cultural level of the population have been rising steadily. Between 1940 and 1972 the national income increased 5.9 times, and in 1972 about 70 percent of the national income was allocated for goods and services. Production of consumer goods increased seven fold between 1950 and 1971. The standard of living of the working people is rising owing to higher wages for industrial and office workers (increasing by 27 percent during the fourth five-year plan from 1966 to 1970), the higher income of members of agricultural associations (by 240 million tugriks), and the rapid growth of the social consumption fund (by 19.9 percent). The average monthly wages of industrial and office workers increased 1.2 times between 1960 and 1972. The wage rates of workers in a number of branches of material production have risen.

In 1971 wages of up to 300 tugriks a month were declared exempt from income tax, and tax rates for monthly wages of more than 300 tugriks were reduced by approximately 20 percent. The salaries of certain categories of low-paid workers in agricultural associations were raised by an average of more than 15 percent.

The proportion of the social consumption fund allocated for the payment of pensions, allowances, and benefits and for free services has increased substantially. Industrial and office workers and the members of agricultural associations receive old age pensions. Between 1966 and 1970, old age pensions increased by an average of 20 percent, with the amounts ranging from 150 to 600 tugriks. Men 60 years of age and women 55 years of age (for jobs injurious to health,55 and 50 years, respectively) who have worked more than 20 years (or more than 15 years in unhealthy jobs) are eligible for pensions. In 1971 the allowance for mothers with many children was increased.

Much attention is devoted to the protection of labor. Paid vacations, disability pensions, and leaves for temporary disability have been instituted. The eight-hour workday and the six-day week are standard.

Measures have been taken to improve the working and living conditions of the rural population. The funds from which members of agricultural associations are paid for their labor have been increasing, and the members’ income from cooperative farming is growing. The prices paid by the state for the main products of livestock raising have increased, and incentive increments on products exceeding the plan for state procurements have been established.

Between 1960 and 1972 the per capita retail commodity turnover increased by 38 percent, with the per capita turnover of foodstuffs increasing by 67 percent. Up to 40 percent of the state budget is spent for social and cultural purposes excluding capital construction. In 1972 the per capita expenditure for social and cultural services was 37 times that of 1940. Free education is provided in general schools, vocational schools, technicums, and higher educational institutions in both cities and rural areas. Kindergartens, nurseries, boarding schools, hospitals, maternity homes, and other medical institutions are maintained by the state. The housing supply is continuously increasing; about 150,000 sq m of housing were constructed in 1971–72. Various measures are being taken to improve the living conditions of rural workers.



Ocherki ekonomiki Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki. Moscow, 1969.
Ovdienko, I. Kh. Sovremennaia Mongoliia. Moscow, 1964.
Gungaadash, B. Mongoliia segodnia: Priroda, liudi, khoziaistvo. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Roshchin, S. K. Sel’skoe khoziaistvo MNR na sotsialisticheskom puti. Moscow, 1971.
50 let MNR: Statistich. sb. Ulan Bator, 1971.
Statisticheskii ezhegodnik stranchlenov Soveta ekonomicheskoi vzaimopomoshchi 1973. Moscow, 1973.

Mongolia’s armed forces, the Mongolian People’s Army (MPA), consist of ground troops, antiaircraft units, and border troops. The minister of defense exercises direction over the army, which is maintained by universal conscription. The period of active military service is three years, and the draft age is 19 years. Armaments include missiles of various types, modern tanks, artillery, jet aircraft, and engineering, radar, and other military equipment. The first regular units were organized in early 1921. Between May and August 1939 the MPA, along with Red Army troops, took part in the rout of the Japanese forces that attacked the republic near the Khalkhin-Gol River. In August 1945 the MPA and Soviet Armed Forces defeated the Kwantung Army of imperialist Japan. March 18 is observed as the anniversary of the MPA’s formation. On Mar. 18, 1921, Mongolian troops won their first major victory, liberating the city of Maimachen, present day Altan-Bulak, from the invaders.

The hardships of nomadic life in pre-revolutionary Mongolia and the prevalence of infectious and venereal diseases resulted in high morbidity and mortality rates (including infant mortality) compared to other Oriental countries.

In 1972 the birth rate was 39.3 per thousand inhabitants, and the overall mortality rate, 10.8 per thousand inhabitants (the corresponding figures in 1921 were 25 and 30). The infant mortality rate was 73.4 per thousand live births in 1970,compared to 500 in 1921. The average life span doubled between 1919 and 1969, rising to 64.5 years (62.5 years for men and 66.33 for women).

The incidence of infectious diseases decreased sharply under the people’s government. Smallpox, plague, typhus, and recurrent fever have been completely eradicated, and malignant anthrax, rabies, spinal meningitis, and trachoma have been reduced to isolated cases. Between 1965 and 1970 alone the incidence of diphtheria declined 7.2 times; brucellosis, 4 times; typhoid, 1.9 times; and dysentery, 1.7 times. The incidence of poliomyelitis in 1969 was 26 times less than that in 1963. Among parasitic diseases helminthiases predominate.

Mongolia has a state public health system providing free medical care for the entire population. In 1973 there were more than 350 hospitals with some 12,000 beds, or 9.6 beds per thousand inhabitants (in 1925 there was only one hospital with 15 beds). The country also had 164 polyclinics in 1971. The population of goskhozes, agricultural associations, and relatively inaccessible regions is served by 97 medical stations staffed by doctors and 846 stations run by medical assistants (1970). Maternity hospitals, obstetrical stations, maternity and children’s consultation clinics, child nutrition facilities, nurseries, and kindergartens have been established under the people’s government. Pregnant workingwomen are given a paid leave of 45 days both before and after delivery. Under the law mothers receive payments upon the birth of twins, and there are other benefits for mothers with many children. In 1970, 92 percent of pregnant women and 94 percent of children under the age of one were being regularly examined at dispensaries.

In 1972 there were about 2,500 doctors (one for every 520 persons), compared with two doctors in 1925 (one for every 325,900 persons); 93 dentists; 700 pharmacists; and about 8,000 intermediate medical personnel. Medical specialists are trained by the Mongolian State Medical Institute, founded in 1942 as the medical faculty of the Mongolian State University and functioning since 1961 as an independent institute. It has departments of medicine, pediatrics, hygiene, stomatology, and pharmacy, a division of dentistry, and advanced training courses for physicians. Intermediate medical personnel are trained at three medical technicums (in Ulan Bator and in the East Gobi and Gobi-Altai aimaks) and six schools (in Ulan Bator and Darkhan and in the Arakhangai, Kobdo, and Eastern aimaks). The country has many mineral springs, called arshans, at which health resorts for working people have been built. The largest resorts are Zhanchivlin, Gurvannur, Otgon Tenger, and Khudzhirt. In 1970 public health expenditures totaled about 106 million tugriks.


Veterinary services. Under the people’s government, Mongolia’s veterinary service, aided by Soviet specialists, has been highly successful in controlling epizootic diseases among livestock. Plague and peripneumonia of cattle,infectious pleuropneumonia of goats, and sheep pox have been wiped out. In 1966–68 specialists from COMECON assisted Mongolian veterinarians in carrying out a diagnostic examination of all livestock to determine the incidence of the most dangerous anthropozoonoses—glanders, brucellosis, and tuberculosis. A comprehensive program for eradicating these diseases was worked out. Other common diseases include scabies of sheep and camels, necrobacillosis, swine plague, and such helminthiases as coenurosis, echinococcosis, and cysticercosis.

The state veterinary service is under the Ministry of Agriculture. Veterinary preparations are produced at pharmaceutical plants in Songino and Kobdo. Research is conducted at the Research Institute of Livestock Raising, the Agricultural Institute, and the Central Veterinary Hygiene Laboratory of the Republic. Veterinarians are trained at the Agricultural Institute of Ulan Bator, and veterinary assistants are trained at four technicums. In 1970 there were 900 veterinarians.


In prerevolutionary Mongolia, less than 1 percent of the population was literate. The only schools in the country were the datsans attached to Buddhist monasteries, which taught primarily Tibetan, Buddhist philosophy, and astrology. After the victory of the People’s Revolution of 1921, the popular government began to organize a state system of public education. The Decree on the Organization of Elementary Schools was adopted in August 1921, and the Regulations for Elementary Schools were ratified the same year. In 1927 the Regulations for Secondary Schools were approved, banning private schools and providing for the creation of genuinely national state schools in which Mongolian would be the language of instruction. In 1921–22, 12 elementary schools and a seven-year school (in Ulan Bator) were established, with an enrollment of 400 children.

The organizational principles of public education were set forth in the party’s second program, adopted by the Fourth Congress of the MPRP in 1925. General secular schools were to be established for all children, regardless of sex or nationality. Instruction was to be free, compulsory, and coeducational for all children up to 18 years of age, and corporal punishment was abolished. One of the goals of education was to inspire devotion to the party and the nation. During the first years of the people’s government, the development of public education was complicated by a shortage of money for the organization of mass education, a lack of teachers, and a lack of experience in organizing schools. The first teacher-training courses were inaugurated in 1922. In the late 1920’s, the training of teachers in Soviet schools began. Standard curricula were introduced in 1933. The Lamaist clergy stubbornly resisted the introduction of secular education, and until the late 1930’s, monastic schools existed alongside state schools. In 1933, monastic schools had an enrollment of 18,000 students.

From the first years of the people’s government adult education courses were given at all schools and in all military units, industrial enterprises, and farm organizations. In 1941 a new alphabet was introduced, based on movement arose whose slogan was “Each literate person, teach at least three illiterates.” By the end of the first five-year plan (1952), illiteracy had been virtually eradicated among adults.

In 1955 the Central Committee of the MPRP and the Council of Ministers of the MPR adopted the resolution On Universal Compulsory Elementary Education of School-age Children, and in 1958 they adopted the resolution On the Introduction of Universal Compulsory Seven-year Education in the Cities and Aimak Centers. Adult education was further advanced through an extensive network of seasonal and general evening schools and schools for people working in shifts. The new party program adopted at the MPRP’s Fifteenth Congress in 1966 called for the immediate establishment of universal lower secondary education for all school age children. The program also envisaged a subsequent transition to universal upper secondary education. In 1972–73 a new secondary school curriculum was introduced, providing for three years of instruction in elementary schools, eight years in lower secondary schools, and ten years in upper secondary schools. In the 1973–74 school year there were 549 schools of all types, with an enrollment of 274,300.

A system of vocational training was organized in 1964 to train skilled workers. In 1972 there were 20 vocational schools with 8,700 students. Between 1965 and 1970 more than 20,000 workers were trained in 70 specializations.

In 1924 the first special secondary schools were established, whose teachers were Soviet educators and specialists. In 1970 there were 11,100 persons studying in 19 technicums, including several medical, veterinary and agricultural schools and schools of finance and economics, trade, polytechnical education, and railroad transport.

Public higher education was initiated in 1940 with the opening of the Pedagogical Institute in Ulan Bator. In 1942 the Mongolian State University was established with the aid of the USSR. Initially the university had three departments—medicine, veterinary science, and pedagogy. By 1972 the university had departments of physics and mathematics, chemistry and biology, social sciences (training specialists in philosophy, history, and law), economics, and philology.With the aid of UNESCO the Polytechnic Institute was created in 1969 under the auspices of the university. Several of the university’s departments have grown into independent institutes of pedagogy (1951), agriculture (1958), and medicine (1961). In the 1972–73 academic year, 8,900 students were studying in higher educational institutions. By 1970 more than 15,000 Mongolian specialists had been trained in higher and special secondary institutions of the USSR; more than 4,000 Mongolian students were receiving training in the USSR in 1973.

Ulan Bator is the site of the State Public Library (founded in 1921, 1 million volumes), the country’s largest library, the State Central Museum, the V. I. Lenin Museum, the Central Museum of the Revolution, the Museum of Religion, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of the Reconstruction of Ulan Bator, and the D. Natsagdorzh Museum.


Baldaev, R. L. Narodnoe obrazovanie v Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respub-like. Moscow, 1971.


Natural and technical sciences. In feudal Mongolia scientific knowledge was acquired primarily in astronomy, medicine, and agriculture. Under the people’s government, there have been notable scientific advances. Contacts with Soviet scientists were established in 1921, and in 1929 an agreement on cooperation was signed by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the Committee of Sciences of the MPR. During the 1930’s and 1940’s research in the natural sciences was oriented toward the needs of the national economy. Joint expeditions of Mongolian and Soviet scientists were organized to study the country’s flora and fauna, geography, and geology, and Soviet scientists helped train national scientific workers.

The 1950’s and 1960’s saw the development of branches of science dealing with agriculture. Zoological and botanical research by Mongolian scientists was aimed at increasing livestock productivity and improving breeds, treating and preventing animal diseases, efficiently using feed resources, and improving farming methods. An outstanding achievement was the development of a new breed of Orkhon sheep under the direction of T. Aiurzan, corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR. This breed has a semi-fine fleece and is raised for meat and wool. Karakul sheep are being acclimatized in the Gobi regions. A new breed of goats is being developed for fleece by crossing local goats with Don goats from the USSR. Academician Ts. Toivgo’s studies of cattle have played a significant role in improving animal husbandry. Problems of camel breeding are also being studied. Productive strains of cereals, vegetables,and fruit adapted to the country’s severe climatic conditions have been developed by Kh. Zunduizhantsan, M. Ul’zii, and E. Shagdar, corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR. Mongolian biologists are engaged in the study, classification, and systematization of Mongolia’s flora and fauna. Important works include the Index to the Plants of Central Mongolia, Aromatic Plants of the MPR, and Game Animals of the MPR and Their Protection.

During the 1960’s theoretical and practical research in chemistry and agricultural chemistry expanded. The Institute of Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR has studied the distribution of trace elements in the soil, compiled cartograms showing the occurrence of these elements in a number of regions, and made recommendations for using trace element fertilizers in farming, and for adding vitamins to certain foodstuffs. Considerable geochemical and biochemical research has been undertaken. A notable contribution is the monograph Biochemistry of Food Plants of Mongolia.

Working closely with specialists from the COMECON countries, Mongolian geologists have discovered many deposits of various minerals and compiled geological and tectonic maps of the MPR. Mongolian geographers are studying permafrost and defining the country’s natural and economic zones. Works have been published on the physical geography of Mongolia (Sh. Tsegmid) and on economic geography (B. Gungadash). Hydrometeorological research is being conducted by a special scientific research institute and more than 60 meteorological, aerological, and hydrological stations, constituting the MPR’s hydrometeorological service.

Since 1956, Mongolian physicists have been working at the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research in Dubna. The Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR, established in 1961, studies seismicity, magnetism, and the spread of radioactive fallout. Astronomical research includes observation of the sun’s corona and prominences, and artificial earth satellites are tracked. The Institute of Mathematics, founded in 1968, has a computer center and studies problems of theoretical and applied mathematics.

Among notable achievements in medicine are the development of scientific principles of combatting epidemic diseases and advances in the treatment of rheumatism and other diseases. Folk medicine and the properties of local medicinal plants are being studied, and preparations made from wild plants are used extensively in medical treatment.


Social sciences. PHILOSOPHY. After the formation of the Mongol state in 1206, shamanism, the hitherto unchallenged religion of the Mongol tribes, began to give way to Buddhism. The philosophical treatises of Buddhist monks began to reach Mongolia, and the first such Mongolian work, Loda Chzhaltsan’s Explanation of the Knowable, was written in the 13th century. By the 16th and 17th centuries, Lamaist Buddhism had become the official religion in the Mongol state. The work of the most important Mongolian philosophers—who wrote commentaries to Buddhist philosophical treatises—dates from this period. Robzhamba Sodnom Vanzhal was the author of a textbook on logic and dialectics called the Sun’s Ray. Agvan Dandar Lkharamba (of Alashan) offered his own interpretation of the problem of “alien animation” posed by the Indian logician Dharmakirti. Agvan Baldan analyzed various Indian philosophical schools and currents in his three-volume history of Indian philosophy, written in 1846 as a commentary to the History of Indian Philosophy by Gunchen Chzham’ian Shadp Dorchzhe, the great Tibetan scholar and philosopher of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. In the first half of the 18th century Chzhan-chzha Khu-tug-tu compiled a Tibetan-Mongolian dictionary of philosophical terms known as the Dictionary for Sages. Zhanzha Rol’bi Dorzhi wrote a two-volume work on the history of Indian philosophy, and one of Sakhar Lubsan Sul’tim’s main works was a commentary to the Theory of Thought by the Indian philosopher Asanga.

Under the influence of the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, Marxist-Leninist ideas began to spread in Mongolia, becoming the ideological foundation of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party. In their studies Mongolian philosophers and sociologists offer theoretical generalizations based on the experience of socialist construction in the MPR. Philosophers are trained by the department of Marxism-Leninism and philosophy of the D. Sukhe-Bator Higher Party School in Ulan Bator.


HISTORY. The earliest example of Mongolian feudal historiography is the anonymous chronicle Mongolyn nuuts tobcho (Secret History), written at the earliest in 1240. The historical writings of the 14th to 16th centuries have not survived, but the events of this period were reflected in works dating from the 17th to 19th centuries, notably the anonymous Alton tobchi (The Golden Button), Sagan Setsen’s Erdeniin tobchi (The Jeweled Button), Rashipuntsug’s Bolor erikhe (The Crystal Beads), and Galdan’s Erdeniin erikhe (The Jeweled Beads). Biographies of Lamaist leaders and Mongolian translations of Tibetan and Chinese historical literature also appeared at this time. From the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when Lamaism became the dominant ideology, Mongolian feudal historiography developed under clerical influence. A critical, anti-Manchu tendency appeared in Mongolian historiography in the middle of the 19th century in the writings of Inzhinash. An 11-volume history of Mongolia, essentially continuing the tradition of feudal historiography, was written but not published under the feudal-theocratic monarchy from 1911 to 1919. There was a considerable body of historical literature in Tibetan by such scholars as Sh. Damdin.

Marxist-Leninist methodology became firmly established in Mongolian historiography after the victory of the people’s revolution in 1921. In the 1920’s and 1930’s the classics of Marxism-Leninism were translated into Mongolian; historical material was collected and historians were trained. Primary attention was devoted to the publication of sources and to archaeology, and the first secondary-school history textbooks were written. The works of the older generation of historians which appeared at this time—those of Kh. Maksarzhab, L. Dendeb, A. Amor, G. Navannamzhil—provided an objective account of Mongolian history, particularly for the period from 1911 to 1919. However, their work suffered from insufficient analysis and generalization. A notable exception was the collective work on the history of the Mongolian people’s revolution written in 1934 by Kh. Choibalsan, G. Demid, and D. Losol.

Several monographs and collective works on history were published in the 1940’s and 1950’s, including the one-volume History of the MPR, a joint work of Mongolian and Soviet scholars. This work, published in 1954, treats the history of the country from earliest times to the 1950’s. A second edition, in Russian, was published in Moscow in 1967. Marxist-Leninist methodology triumphed after a sharp struggle against the vestiges of feudalism and the influence of bourgeois and petit bourgeois ideology in historical research. During the 1960’s and 1970’s historical science entered a new stage. It assumed a greater role in the communist upbringing of the working people, drawing scientific generalizations from experience and revealing the laws of the history of the Mongolian people. The number of highly qualified historians, some trained in the USSR, increased; the scope of historical problems expanded; and the scientific and theoretical level of historical works rose.

Outstanding historical works of the late 1960’s include the basic three-volume History of the MPR (1966–70) and a synthesis of party history entitled Studies in the History of the MPRP (1967; Russian translation, 1971). Other importantstudies were B. Shirendyb’s works on Mongolia’s socioeconomic development at the turn of the century and on the people’s revolution and the formation of the MPR; Sh. Natsagdorzh’s works on the history of the arat movement and the history of Khalkha; B. Tudev’s work on the history of the Mongolian working class; and N. Ishzhamts’ work on the Mongolian people’s liberation struggle in the 18th century. Among the questions treated were the history of the Khitans, predecessors of the Mongols; the origin of the Mongol tribes; the role of Chinese merchants and moneylenders in Mongolia; the country’s foreign relations in the 19th and 20th centuries; and the history of Lamaism. Eminent historians include Kh. Perlee, D. Gongor, M. Sanzhadorzh, Sh. Sandag, and S. Purevzhav. Ts. Damdinsuren’s monograph on the historical roots of the epic about Geser Khan was published in 1957. The works of Mongol authors who wrote in Tibetan and of Mongolian feudal historgiography were studied by Sh. Bira. A wealth of archaeological material on the Paleolithic and Neolithic, the Bronze Age, and the early tribes and states on the territory of the MPR was gathered in the course of expeditions, particularly the Soviet-Mongolian historical-cultural expedition of 1969–71. This material was the basis for works on the ancient Turkic peoples (N. Ser-Odzhav), the history of shamanism (Ch. Dalai), and the life and economy of the Darkhats (Ch. Badamkhatan). Sources and documents on the country’s history, the revolution, and the building of socialism are being published.

The main centers for the study of history are the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR, established in 1961; the Institute of Party History under the Central Committee of the MPRP, founded in 1955; and the department of history of the Mongolian State University, organized in 1942. Works by Mongolian historians are published in Tuukhiin tsuvral, the yearbook of the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences, issued since 1961, and the journals BNMAU-yn Shinzhlekh ukhaany akademiin medee, issued since 1961, and Namyn am’dral, published since 1923.


ECONOMICS. The economic thought of feudal Mongolia was reflected in annals, laws, and contemporary works on economics, which proclaimed the immutable economic prerogatives of the khans, noions, and other feudal lords and contained much information on the economy and life of the Mongols. Economic works discussing herding and giving advice on managing everyday affairs appeared in the 18th century. The most important of these works was To-Van’s Admonitions (1853). At the beginning of the 20th century, progressive leaders called for overcoming economic backwardness and argued the necessity of developing industry and agriculture.

The anti-imperialist, anti-feudal revolution of 1921 laid the foundation for the development of Marxist economic thought. Between the 1920’s and 1940’s Mongolian economists directed their efforts primarily toward working out concrete economic programs, economic legislation, and problems of long-range socioeconomic development. In 1934 a collective work was published by Kh. Choibalsan, D. Losol, and D. Demid, analyzing Mongolian economic conditions prior to the revolution and the popular government’s first economic measures in the postrevolutionary period. From the late 1950’s scientific economic studies were promoted by directives of party congresses and decisions of plenums of the Central Committee of the MPRP on economic questions. Between the 1950’s and the early 1970’s Mongolian economists studied the country’s economic history (B. Shirendyb, Sh. Natsagdorzh), socialist construction (N. Zhagvaral, U.Kambar, B. Gungaadash, P. Nergui), agricultural economics (D. Dugar, S. Zhadamba, D. Moebuu), the economics of industry, construction, and transport (D. Zagasbaldan, D. Maidar, Ch. Sereeter, Ts. Gurbadam), the formation and development of the Mongolian working class (B. Tudev), domestic and foreign trade (P. Luvsandorzh, M. Pelzhee), and finance (O. Tsend, B. Dolgorma).

The main centers of economic science are the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences and Gosplan (State Planning Committee) of the MPR, the Higher Party School under the Central Committee of the MPRP, and the Mongolian State University. The economics journal Ediin zasgiin asuudal, the organ of the Central Committee of the MPRP, has been published since 1959. Economic material is also published in the journals Namyn am‘dral (since 1923), BNMA U-yn Shinzhlekh ukhaany akademiin medee (since 1961), and Shinzhlekh ukhaany am’dral (since 1935).


JURISPRUDENCE. Mongolian legal scholars study problems relating to the organization and activity of the people’s khurals (S. Zhalan-aazhav, E. Avilmed) and other questions concerning the development of the socialist state. A leading authority on legal history is Sodovsuren. Textbooks on civil law and procedure have been published in Russian. Labor law has been extensively studied in connection with the preparation and adoption of the labor code in 1973, and problems of the law of agricultural associations are being examined. In criminal law and procedure Zh. Avkhia has written on crimes against the individual and R. Gunsen on crimes against socialist property. G. Sovd has publishedcourse on criminal law, and a textbook on criminal procedure has been written by Zh. Avkhia, B. Davaasambuu, and Ts. Buzhinlkham in collaboration with Soviet scholars.

Research in jurisprudence is conducted by the Division of Philosophy and Law of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR, the Institute of Philosophy, Sociology, and Law of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR, the Institute for the Study of the Causes and Prevention of Crime under the Procuracy of the MPR, and the law department of the Mongolian State University. The legal journals are Ardyn tor and Sotsialist khuul’es.

Scientific institutions. A system of scientific institutions was organized after the victory of the people’s revolution in 1921. The Scientific Committee was established in 1921 and renamed the Committee of Sciences of the MPR in 1929.At first the committee studied historical and philological problems, but from the late 1920’s it became increasingly active in scientific and economic research. In the 1930’s sectors for the study of national economic questions were organized within the committee, including offices of farming, livestock raising, and geology. In 1961 the committee was reorganized to form the Academy of Sciences of the MPR, the country’s main center for research in the social and natural sciences. In addition to the Academy of Sciences, more than 30 research institutions under various ministries and government departments conduct scientific work, including institutes of livestock raising and veterinary medicine,plant breeding and farming, and fodder and pastures (all under the Ministry of Agriculture), as well as institutes of pedagogy, medicine, and construction. Scientific work is coordinated by the State Committee on Science and Technology and by the Academy of Sciences of the MPR.


Shirendev, B. “Mongol ornoo tal burees n’ tanin sudlakhyg khicheezh baina.” Shinzhlekh ukhaan am’dral, 1971, no. 6.
“Ard tymniig uilchlegch Shinzhlekh ukhaan 50 zhild.” Zaluuchuudyn unen, February 17, 1971.

In 1972 there were 12 central and 18 local newspapers and a number of magazines whose total circulation exceeded 1 million copies. The leading newspapers and magazines are published in Ulan Bator. The daily Unen (Truth), published since 1925 and with a circulation of 113,000 in 1975, is the organ of the Central Committee of the MPRP and the Council of Ministers of the MPR. The monthly magazine Namyn am’dral (Party Life), published since 1923 and withcirculation of 25,000 (1975), is the organ of the Central Committee of the MPRP. The newspaper Khudulmur (Labor), founded in 1930 and published three times weekly, is the organ of the Central Council of Trade Unions of the MPR (circulation in 1975, 60,000). Zaluchudyn unen (Young People’s Truth), a newspaper founded in 1924 and published three times weekly (circulation in 1975, 60,000), is the organ of the Central Committee of the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League. The newspaper Novosti Mongolii (News of Mongolia) has been issued twice weekly since 1947. Its Russian-language edition had a circulation of 10,000 in 1975, and its Chinese edition, 1,000. Mongol uls (Mongolia),monthly illustrated magazine devoted to social and political affairs, literature, and the arts, has appeared since 1956 (circulation of Mongolian-language edition, 12,000 in 1975; Russian edition, 19,000; English edition, 1,000). The quarterly Mongolyn emegteichud (Mongolian Women), founded in 1925, had a circulation of 30,000 in 1975.

In 1957 a government telegraph agency, the Mongolian Telegraph Agency (MONTsAME), was established. The agency supplies the Mongolian press, radio, and television with information on foreign affairs and publishes a newspaper and information bulletins in English and French. Radio broadcasting, begun in 1934, is controlled by the State Committee for Information, Radio, and Television of the Council of Ministers of the MPR. There are two radio centers, one at Ulan Bator and the other at Ulegei. The radio center at Ulan Bator broadcasts in Mongolian on two programs (21 hours daily). Broadcasts in Russian, Chinese, English, French, and Kazakh are transmitted regularly (30 hours a week).

A television center went into operation in Ulan Bator in 1967. Since 1969 telecasts to Ulan Bator have been relayed by the Orbit space telecommunications station. Three television programs—a national program and two Orbit programs—are broadcast six days a week.


Mongolian folklore has a wealth of genres, including songs, epic songs, heroic legends, tales, iorols (good wishes), magtaals (eulogistic songs), surgaals (precepts), legends, riddles, proverbs, and sayings. Strong folkloric traditions account for the vitality of Mongolian epic literature, famous for the legend of Geser Khan and the folk epic Dzhangar (also found among the Kalmyks) about the flourishing land of Bumba and its hero and defender, Dzhangar. Epigraphsfrom the 12th and 13th centuries and the inscriptions on the cliffs of Khalkha Tsokto-taidzhi (1580–1637) attest to the great influence of folk songs and to the epic quality of Mongolian poetry. The work known as the Golden Horde Birch-bark Manuscript (early 14th century; Hermitage, Leningrad) provides examples of dialogue folk songs. The first known Mongolian written work, the Secret History (not earlier than 1240), by an anonymous author or group of authors, is both a historical and a literary work. The literature of the 13th and 14th centuries has survived only in fragmentary form in later works, chiefly 17th-century chronicles. These chronicles contain the famous Legend of Argasun-khuurch, Conversation of the Orphan Boy With the Nine Knights of Genghis Khan, and Legend of the Rout of the Three Hundred Taidzhiuts. Among later works incorporated in the chronicles are the 15th-century Lament of Togontemur and Legendof the Wise Mandukhai, The Khan’s Wife and the 16th-century Tale of Ubashi-khun-taizh. Three 17th-century chronicles are outstanding for their literary qualities: the anonymous Yellow Story, Lubsan Dandzan’s Golden Legend, and Sagan Setsen’s Jeweled Button.

A notable feature of original 19th-century Mongolian literature is the diversity of its genres. Inzhinash (1837–92) wrote the historical trilogy The Blue Chronicle and the novel of everyday life The One-story Pavilion. Khuul’ch Sandag wasmaster of folk satire in verse. Outstanding poets included D. Ravzhaa (1803–56), Gulransa (1820–51), Ishdanzanvanzhil (1854–1907), Luvsandondov (1854–1909), Khishigbat (1849–1916), and Gamal (1871–1916). Genden Meeren (1820–82) wrote the allegorical tale Dog, Cat, and Mouse. These works are marked by democratic anti-feudal tendencies.

Literature in translation flourished from the time of the Yuan empire, which lasted from the 1270’s to 1368. Among the translated works were Santideva’s narrative poem Kalila and Dimna, an Iranian version of the Pancatantra; One Hundred Thousand Songs by the Tibetan hermit poet Milaraiba, and the collection of aphorisms Subashita. The 108-volume Kanjur, containing not only scholarly treatises but also works on linguistics, versification, and rhetoric, and the 225-volume Tanjur, a commentary to the Kanjur, were translated for several centuries and printed in the 18th century. The afterwords to some translations name the translator. Choidzhi-odser, for example, wrote the verse afterword and commentary to his translation of the Bodhicaryavatara (14th century). Many tales and stories of Indian origin circulated widely, such as the Tales of the Vampire, the Pancatantra stories, and the legend of King Vikramaditya. Chinesenovels were transmitted orally. Especially popular were Shih Nai-an’s Water Margin, Lo Kuan-chung’s Three Kingdoms, Wu Ch’eng-en’s Monkey, and Ts’ao Hsiieh-ch’in’s Dream in the Red Chamber, and the short stories of P’u Sungling.

After the People’s Revolution of 1921 the young literature of Mongolia, drawing upon folklore, absorbed the best traditions of the literary heritage and expanded its ties with progressive world literature, primarily with classical Russian and Soviet literature. New genres developed, among which drama held a special place. A group of revolutionary writers banded together in 1929, forming the Mongolian Association of Revolutionary Writers in 1930. The new literature was inaugurated with the revolutionary songs Shive Kiakhta and Red Banner and with amateur plays on topical subjects (Sando amban’ 1922). Outstanding plays were written by D. Natsagdorzh (1906–37), one of the founders of contemporary Mongolian literature, and the talented writers S. Buiannemekh (1902–37), M. ladamsuren (1902–37), Sh. Aiusha (1904–37), and D. Namdag (born 1911). The first Mongolian novellas were published in the 1920’s, notably Lake Tolbo by Ulaan-otorch (pseudonym of Ts. Dambadorzh, 1900–34) and The Rejected Maiden by Ts. Damdinsuren (born 1908). Most of Natsagdorzh’s best works were written in the 1930’s—poetry, stories, lyrical miniatures, several plays, including the first national musical drama, Three Sorrowing Hills, and the first chapters of the story The Unthreaded Pearl. Damdinsuren wrote verses and the narrative poem My Gray-haired Mother (1934), expressing love for his mother and devotion to his homeland. Although they were profoundly national writers who continued folk traditions, Natsagdorzh and Damdinsuren were influenced by progressive foreign literature. Their works represent the first successes of socialist realism in Mongolian literature.

Many new poets and prose writers emerged in the 1940’s and 1950’s. The rout of Japanese forces near the Khalkhin-Gol River in 1939, the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union (1941–45), and the MPR’s participation in the defeat ofthe Kwantung Army in the autumn of 1945 were portrayed in many works, and Mongolian-Soviet friendship became a dominant theme. Solidarity with the Soviet people was a central motif in the works of S. Dashdendev (born 1912), D. Tsevegmed (born 1915), Ch. Lkhamsuren (born 1917), P. Khorloo (born 1917), and D. Tarva (born 1923). National drama developed, and Mongolia’s past was evoked in the plays of Namdag, Ts. Tsedenzhav (born 1913), and B. Baast(born 1921). Folk plays were written by Ch. Oidov (1917–63) and plays on contemporary themes by D. Sengee (1916–59), E. Oiuun (born 1918), Ch. Lodoidamba (1917–70), and L. Vangan (1920–68). Sengee is also known for his many fine verses, songs, and narrative poems and his story “Aiuush” (1947) about a hero of the MPR.

A significant achievement of the 1950’s and 1960’s was the development of the novel, supplanting poetry, as the dominant genre. B. Rinchen (born 1905) and Lodoidamba wrote the first Mongolian novels. Mongolian society of the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries is portrayed in Rinchen’s novel Dawn on the Steppe (books 1–3, 1951–55). Lodoidamba’s novel In the Altai (1949) depicts a geological expedition and the molding of the new man. Lodoidamba’s most popular novel, Transparent Tamir (books 1–2, 1962–67), is a vast, multilevel work portraying the people’s revolution of 1921 and the lives of the toilers of Mongolia. Other novels dealing with the revolution are Troubled Years by Namdag, Grief and Happiness by Ts. Ulambaiar (born 1911), and Red Sun by Dashdendev. Outstanding novelists today are Zh. Purev (born 1921), L. Tudev (born 1935), and S. Dashdoorov (born 1935). The central theme in Tudev’s novels is socialist Mongolia and the passionate desire to create a new life (Mountain Stream, 1960; Migration, 1964).

The novella and short-story genres continue to develop. In Baast’s collections of short stories contemporary problems are intertwined with themes from the history of the revolution. The stories of M. Gaadamba (born 1924) deal with moral questions. The women writers Oiuun and S. Udval (born 1921) portray the lives of Mongolian women. Udval is best known for her short-story collection We Will Meet You (1965). The novellas of D. Miatmar (born 1933)— We and the Earth(1965), The Miller (1966), and The Miller’s Daughter (1966)—are imbued with humanitarian ideas. Ethical and moral problems are explored in Damdinsuren’s short-story collection Strange Wedding (1966). S. Erdene (born 1929) is a master of the psychological, lyrical short story. His best works are the short-story collection Dust From Under the Hooves (1964) and the novellas Year of the Blue Mouse (1970) and Grass Beneath the Snow (1971). The stories and novellas of the 1960’s and early 1970’s are devoted to actual conflicts and goals and portray heroes united by socialist ideas.

Among outstanding contemporary poets are Ts. Gaitav (born 1929), the author of the narrative poems Lenin Is With Us (1963), Karl Marx (1964), Sukhe-Bator (1967), and Friedrich Engels (1973); B. lavuukhulan (born 1929), a master oflyric and civic poetry; and Ch. Chimid (born 1927), a poet, prose writer, and playwright. Other noteworthy poets include D. Purevdorzh (born 1933), Sh. Surenzhav (born 1938), P. Purevsuren (born 1939), Sh. Dulma (born 1934), and M. Tsedendorzh (born 1932).

In the 1970’s many foreign works were translated into Mongolian. The works of contemporary writers, while preserving national traits, attest to the influence of progressive world literature.

The Union of Writers of the MPR regulates literary life; five congresses of Mongolian writers have been held. The Union of Writers publishes the journal Tsog (since 1944), the newspaper Utga zokhiol urlag (since 1955), and the literary miscellany Collection of Inspired Words (since 1929). The writings of young people are published in the yearbook Snowdrop.


Vladimirtsov, B. “Mongol’skaia literatura.” In the collection Literatura Vostoka, issue 2. Petrograd, 1920.
Mongolo-oiratskii geroicheskii epos. Petrograd-Moscow, 1923.
Gerasimovich, L. K. Literatura Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki 1921–1964 godov. [Leningrad] 1965.
Mikhailov, G. I. Literaturnoe nasledstvo mongolov. Moscow, 1969.
Mikhailov, G., and K. latskovskaia. Mongol’skaia literatura. Moscow, 1969.
Shastina, N. P. “Obraz Chingiskhana v srednevekovoi literature mongolov.” In the collection Tataro-mongoly v Azii i Evrope. Moscow, 1970.
Shastina, N. P. “Povest’ o spore mal’chika-siroty s deviat’iu vitiaziami Chingisa.” In the collection Strany i narody Vostoka, issue 11. Moscow, 1971.
Kara, D. Knigi mongol’skikh kochevnikov. Moscow, 1972.
Voprosy literatury, 1973, no. 12. (Issue devoted to the literature of the MPR.)
Luhsan, Danzan. Altai tobchi (The Golden Tale). Introduction, commentary, and appendixes by N. P. Shastina. Moscow, 1973. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Molodye poety Mongolii (collection). Introductory article by K. latskovskaia. Moscow, 1973. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Pesni aratov. Iz mongol’skoi narodnoi poezii. Compiled by G. Mikhailov and translated by N. Grebnev. Moscow, 1973.


The earliest works of art found in Mongolia, dating from the early Bronze Age, include depictions of animals engraved or painted on rock and copper and bronze knives decorated with pictures of animals, at first lifelike and later stylized. From the beginning of the Iron Age stylized figures of animals (such as running deer), in the Scythian animal style appear on bronze articles and “deer stones” (grave pillars or slabs). Imported and locally made utensils, fabrics, felt rugs,and decorated harnesses dating from the late first century B.C. and early first century A.D. have been found in the burial mounds of the Hun aristocracy in Noin-Ula. On metal articles, fanciful figures of wild animals in a refined animal style are frequently accompanied by insets of stones or colored paste. Hun cities had a square layout and were enclosed by earthen ramparts. They included artisan quarters, the palaces of rulers, and dwellings.

During the ascendancy of the Turkic khanate in the sixth to eighth centuries, handicrafts developed. Harnesses and weapons were covered with designs in which floral elements predominated. Memorial sculpture, represented by malestone figures at graves and stelae on tortoise-shaped bases, became widespread. Realistic depictions, such as the head of the statue of Kiul’-Tegin, existed alongside stylized representations, chiefly of animals, exemplified by the engravings on the grave slab of Kiul’-Tegin. Remains from the time of the Uighur khanate (745–840) include the ruins of the capital, Ordu-Balyk, later called Khara-Balgas, which had a regular layout, defensive structures, houses, and temples. Also dating from this period are reliefs on stone stelae and ceramics with stamped patterns.

Under the Khitan, from the tenth to 12th centuries, many cities were built. The cities generally had a square layout and were surrounded by moats and earthen ramparts. They were dissected by one or more streets lined with administrative buildings, temples, and homes; yurts and tents stood in the areas that were not built up. Excavations of the city of Bars-Khot I (tenth to 12th centuries) have uncovered the remains of a Buddhist temple and pagodas,reflecting both local traditions and Chinese influence, altars, and clay figures of divinities and animals. The ruins of the palace of Khan Ugedei and the heathen temples uncovered at Karakorum date from the time of the formation of the Mongolian feudal state and the rise of the Mongolian feudal empire in the late 12th and first half of the 13th centuries.

Between the 16th and the early 20th centuries the felt yurt with a wooden frame was the main type of dwelling in the Mongolian khanates and principalities. With the spread of Lamaism from the late 16th century many monasteries and temples were erected. Religious buildings made of wood appeared—frame structures with plank roofs that resembled yurts. Brick religious structures based on Chinese models and stone buildings of the Tibetan type were also erected. Oustanding examples of such architecture may be found in the monasteries of Erdenidzu and Amur-Baiaskhulantukhite. “Mixed” temples, combining Mongolian and Chinese, Tibetan and Chinese, or Tibetan and Mongolian features, have been preserved in the monasteries of Da-Khure and Gandan in Ulan Bator. Distinctive memorial structures, called suburgans, were developed, exemplified in the Bodisuburgan in Erdenidzu.

Painting of the 16th through early 20th centuries is represented by Buddhist compositions executed in gouache pigments on canvas and by wall paintings on dry plaster with engraved outlines. The influence of Tibetan, Chinese, and Nepalese painting is reflected in the strictly canonical composition, delicate drawing, and vivid colors of Mongolian art. The basic materials used in temple sculpture were clay, wood, and papier-mache, although the largest statues of deities and lamas were cast in bronze, brightly painted, and gilded. An important sculptor of the second half of the 17th century was Dzanabazar. In the late 19th century secular painting developed, including portraits, pictures of Mongolian everyday life and landscapes, and satirical works (Sharav).

In applied art, utensils and clothing were adorned with animal, floral (since the 13th century), and geometric designs. Embroidery and applique work on clothing and leather footwear was distinguished by a combination of contrasting colors. By the mid-17th century embossed and engraved bronze and silver articles of high quality were produced. Other important crafts were woodcarving (animal figurines and ornamental boxes) and the production of papier-mache masks of deities.

With the formation of the Mongolian People’s Republic in 1924, the country embarked on civil and industrial construction, the reconstruction of old cities (Ulan Bator), and the building of new cities and settlements with regular layouts (Darkhan, Nalaikha, and Sain-Shand) with the aid of the USSR. The centers of aimaks and somons (districts), such as Choibalsan and Tsetserleg, were built on the sites of monasteries. Public buildings of the 1920’s and 1930’s show the influence of Soviet constructivism. During the 1940’s and early 1950’s the facades of public buildings, for example, the university in Ulan Bator (1943–46), were decorated with porticoes, colonnades, and indigenous designs. Since the mid-1950’s buildings adapted to local climatic conditions have taken on clarity of spatial composition, notably the Shilen Baishin Exposition Pavilion built in Ulan Bator in 1964. Industrial methods of construction have been use dextensively in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

In the 1920’s, the painter Sharav and later his student Manibadar transformed Mongolian art, creating works on contemporary subjects and often employing chiaroscuro and linear perspective. Since the early 1950’s the range of subjects treated by such artists as ladamsuren, Sengetsokhio, and Damdinsuren has broadened, and national painting techniques have been successfully combined with European styles. The first oil paintings were executed by Choidog, Tsevegzhav, Gava, Tsultem, and Amgalan. Graphic art (S. Natsagdorzh, Sosoi) and sculpture (Choimbol, Zhamba) have flourished since the mid-1950’s. In applied art the production of porcelain and various kinds of ceramics and bonecarving are developing alongside traditional crafts.